Indianapolis City-County councilors advanced two economic measures Monday that will impact key sections of downtown.
One proposal is a first step in the creation of a new professional sports development area. Eleven Park will be the home of a new stadium for the Indy Eleven soccer team, and includes a riverfront development with housing, greenspace and retail spaces. The creation of the district will help fund the project by capturing state and local tax revenue.
Department of Metropolitan Development Director Rusty Carr said it builds on a funding model that Indianapolis has used before.
“This joins the 1997 professional sports development area that includes Lucas Oil, Gainbridge, Victory Field and about 13 other hotels,” Carr said.
A sticking point of the project has been rooted in the location of the site. The original land was used as Indianapolis’s first public cemetery, where many of the city’s first Black residents were buried.
Historian Leon Bates has studied the history of Greenlawn Cemetery and contends that many of the bodies were not properly moved. He urged an addition to the proposal for a proper assessment of the site.
“Add to this bond measure enough money to be able to archaeologically clear the entire 25-acre site and be done with it,” Bates said.
Archeologist Linda Weintraut has been hired for the project, and said she doesn't know what will be found.
“Archaeology is like a quest. I mean you don't know what's beneath the surface – you think you know but until you get there you really don't,” she said.
Weintraut said assessment work will start soon, and any remains will be analyzed at IUPUI.
The measure passed unanimously without any amendments on the bond measure.
Councilors also discussed a new Mile Square district fee that will support continued public safety, cleanliness and homeless initiatives. This proposal was also made possible by state legislation that allows the city to set up an economic enhancement district, EED, that property owners pay into.
The measure will fund work that builds off a pilot program downtown that city leaders say has expanded new safety technology being used by businesses, added cleaning crews and homeless outreach workers.
An amendment caps the budget at $5.5 million dollars a year.
Republicans have spoken out against the new taxing district. Michael-Paul Hart said the downtown area isn’t the only neighborhood that struggles with these issues.
“When I talk to people in my district on the eastside of Indianapolis we've got a lot of these very similar issues on our side of town when it comes to cleanliness, security and absolutely addressing homelessness,” Hart said.
The new proposal will also help support Indianapolis’s first low-barrier shelter. The Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention Executive Director Chelsea Haring-Cozi said this targeted funding is essential.
“As we work to optimize our crisis response system so that it is low-barrier, person-centered, inclusive and equitable,we must have crisis responses and choices that are safe affirming, and that ensure anyone in crisis has the option to access the resources they need to get back into housing and that is not true today,” Haring-Cozi said.
Both proposals head to the full City-County Council with a do pass recommendation.
Contact WFYI city government and policy reporter Jill Sheridan at firstname.lastname@example.org.