FISHERS, Ind. — The Fishers City Council voted Monday night to approve a $550 million economic development with an events center that will eventually be the new home for the Indy Fuel.
“These developments really have the chance to be transformational for this portion of the city and Fishers in general,” said Ryan Menard, vice president of Development for Thompson Thrift, the master developer for the project at Fishers District.
According to city leaders, the expansion includes a new 8,500-seat event center that will be used for ECHL Indy Fuel games, community events like HSE and Fishers high school graduation ceremonies, and other concerts and sporting events.
Once completed, the Indy Fuel will move its headquarters from the Indiana State Fairgrounds to Fishers. It’s expected this will happen for the 2024-2025 season.
The team at Thompson Thrift said the new mid-sized event center will act as an anchor of the overall expansion to the area.
“The District will link 116th Street to 106th Street. The event center itself will sit on a large public plaza that we envision will host some pregame activities, farmers markets, and other public events,” said Menard.
Aside from the new event center, the $550 million project includes plans for 60,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, two hotels, and 70,000 square feet of office space, as well as luxury apartments.
Included in the development will be the future home of Andretti Autosport.
According to Meghan Vukusich, Planning and Zoning Director for the City of Fishers, construction on the project is scheduled to begin in spring 2023 and be completed by December 2024.
During Monday’s meeting, which was streamed by the City of Fishers, traffic patterns and pedestrian walkways were also brought up, which previously had been discussed during several neighborhood meetings, according to Fishers officials.
In addition to approving the more than half a billion dollar development, Fishers Common Council members also approved an ordinance adopting the City of Fishers Food and Beverage Tax, a one percent tax that will go into effect on December 1, 2022.
The ordinance was approved by an 8-1 vote, with Councilwoman Jocelyn Vare voting against the measure.
Vare asked for a motion to amend the ordinance, requesting to adjust the wording to list the event center as the sole beneficiary to the funding, which failed. She also asked for a motion to tie a sunset clause to the collection of the tax for the life of the bond, 40 years, which also failed.
City leaders said the goal of the food and beverage tax was to bring Fishers up to par with the rest of the Indy metro area. Hamilton County adopted a one percent food and beverage tax in 2005 and retail merchants in Fishers have been collecting the tax for 17 years.
For example, an $8.00 receipt total with existing tax would be $8.64. Based on the newly added tax, customers would see an 8 cent difference, with their bill increasing to $8.72.
“So, every single city in the Indy metro with the exception of Anderson and Fishers already has it in place; we’ll be joining our neighbors in Carmel, Noblesville and Westfield,” said Fishers Deputy Mayor Elliot Hultgren.
Hultgren said it is a way to invest in entertainment, culinary and destination opportunities without having to raise property taxes. Other investments will also include top tier concerts and musical acts and a variety of additional sports and entertainment events.
“Without this, we would not be able to build this without raising property taxes or taking some other action, correct,” asked Councilman Todd Zimmerman.
“The events center would not be possible without this,” Hultgren responded.
According to Fishers city leaders, the Fishers District currently has a 1:1 visitor to resident ratio, meaning about 50 percent of the tax collected on food and beverage would be from non-Fishers residents.
“Again, it’s a tax on people consuming food and beverage in Fishers, it’s not a tax on Fishers residents per se,” said Hultgren.
The revenue generated will go directly to paying debt on the $170 million event center, which will also be known as “The Commons.” Based on Food and Beverage collections data received from the Department of Revenue, the city said approximately $3.2 million would have been collected for Fishers in fiscal year 2022.
In addition to these agenda items, the Fishers Common Council also voted on the 2023 City Budget, which included a decrease in property tax rates to 2020 levels.