IPS approves agreement with city for Mass Ave property sale

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 26, 2016)-- Indianapolis Public Schools is moving forward with a plan to sell the former Coca-Cola plant on Massachusetts Avenue.

They also approved an agreement with the city that would allow IPS to take a backseat to developer negotiations while the city does the driving.

The project in question is a $260 million dollar development that will include townhomes, restaurants, a theater, office space, retail and parking. The developer, Hendricks, was chosen by IPS’ real estate committee on Tuesday and officially approved by the school board Thursday night.

“It’s a win-win deal all around,” David Rosenberg says. “IPS gets to move forward with the deal. The city gets intensive involvement in a vital corridor of the city.”

The city will have one year to come up with a project agreement with the developer. If an agreement is reached, the city is on the hook for $13 million dollars to take over the property.

The city will be looking for a plan that’s viewed favorably by the neighborhood.

Residents from the Chatham Arch neighborhood, where the plant is located spoke against the project at the meeting. They say support will be hard to come by, since the neighborhood wasn’t engaged early in the process.

“The committee made its recommendation to the board back in February, which was before there was any overture to the neighborhood to try to get input into the process,” says Chatham Arch resident Clay Miller. “It was already a done deal.”

Parking, green space and historic preservation are just a few concerns neighbors have.

Former Chatham Arch neighborhood association president Shawn Miller says that block has needed development for decades, but residents want to see the best project built there.

“We don’t need this project to dominate the Avenue,” Miller appealed to board members. “It needs to complement it.”

Hendricks Asset Manager Isaac Bamgbose called the residents’ concerns valid, saying the company is up for the challenge of working with the city to fine tune the plan.

“I think those are concerns we’re going to take back and figure out how we can strike that right balance with the neighborhood,” says Bamgbose.

It’s a balance, Chatham Arch resident Sally Spiers says she and her fellow neighbors won’t give up on.

“There will be lots of different fights where we will be defending the neighborhood,” Spiers says, “trying to make the proposal more suitable to what it needs to be.”