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City-County Council votes to borrow $33.5M for Mass Ave redevelopment

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Indianapolis city leaders have voted to borrow $33.5 million to turn a portion of Massachusetts Avenue into a $48 million mixed-use development. The City-County Council voted 22-5 in favor of the proposal Monday.

the Indianapolis Fire Department’s headquarters, a fire station and a credit unit will be moved to inspire more economic growth.

City officials want to begin work in September now that the American Red Cross has agreed to sell its property to them.

Leaders are looking to borrow the money to redevelop the site that is now home to the Indianapolis Fire Department. In its place, they want to see the mixed-use development go up.

“A lot of people who have been here multiple times didn’t even realize there was more stuff on the other end,” said Julie Edwards, manager for Global Gifts, a store on Massachusetts Avenue.

She said she is anxious to see the Indianapolis Fire Department make room for the planned project. She believes it will connect the cultural district with the additional retail. She also believes it will create more foot traffic in the area which could mean more business.

“They can expect what is being called the ‘Times Square of Indianapolis,'” said Deron Kintner, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development.

The development team first revealed its plan for the site in 2012. It includes upwards of 235 apartments, 40,000 square feet of first floor retail space and two levels of parking. The building will also be wrapped in a giant electronic art display.

“You can expect to hear construction noise in September,” said Kintner.

The city plans to pay $8 million to the American Red Cross to take over the Red Cross’ headquarters where the organization has been operating out of since the 1960’s. The property sits just a few blocks north of the city-owned property where the fire department is in operation.

“It was an opportunity to give us a better facility, a fire station with female quarters, for example,” said Brian Sanford, Indianapolis Fire Department Chief.

Sanford said they have millions of dollars worth of renovations that need to be completed at their current facility and they have held off, hopeful they would be relocated. Because of the size of its current headquarters, the fire department has several offices across Indianapolis.

Response times could not be impacted with the move either, according to Sanford. The national standard they work to meet is a response time of four minutes, 90 percent of the time.

Several specialized rescue teams also operate out of the downtown station.

“It will have very little impact if any on response times,” said Sanford.

The new construction and renovations on the Red Cross site are be expected to take a year. They would use the current building for the new IFD headquarters, and they will build a new fire station. Plans for the credit union are still being ironed out. FOX59 has been told the credit union will be built on the same property or nearby.

Construction on Massachusetts Avenue should begin in about 14 months. The construction period could last between 12 and 18 months.

“We expect to see some pretty heavy growth in traffic,” said Edwards. “I’m sure there will be a whole new awakening.”

The Red Cross will be downsizing as it moves to a new location on North Meridian Street. Organization leaders said they plan to shrink their space by 15 percent to reduce unnecessary costs and instead pump the money into services.