In late October, the IBJ reported that developers are ready to give the go-ahead to a massive new mixed-development project in downtown Indianapolis. The project is now projected to go over its once- $550 million estimate and now carries an estimated $1.4 billion budget. We look at the project details, potential impact for the local metro area, and more in today’s BAM blog…

The Development

According to the IBJ, the $1.4 billion budget will afford developers a prime spot of 103 acres at the former GM Stamping Plant. The old GM plant is located adjacent to both Harding and West Washington Street and will have the Circle City’s famous Zoo as a neighbor. Currently, Ambrose Property Group (the company that owns the site), is planning for eight million square feet of mixed-use space including: residential, hotel space, parking garages, office, commercial, and retail space, as well as green space and art installations. While the owners admit to having “serious” conversations with potential tenants, they’re playing their cards close to the vest and not naming any names so far. They did announce that the project will be known as Waterside, and the property is certainly close to one local water feature: bordering the White River.

Although the announcement preceded the city learning that Amazon would not choose Indy as a headquarter location for its HQ2 search, Ambrose Property Group had reportedly been eyeing the location as far back as 2014. In 2017, the group RACER Trust, based in Michigan and tasked with facilitating site development, chose Ambrose – which closed on the purchase just this year. According to the IBJ, site prep and utility work will begin early next year. Perhaps one logistical challenge for locals is that the White River Parkway will be reconfigured during construction to run through the development. Construction isn’t anticipated on any of the buildings until late next year.

Construction will likely occur in phases, with Phase One consisting of multiple buildings and a mix of residential, retail, and office uses. According to the IBJ, the full development of the site is expected to take 15 years. Ambrose also pictures adding bike lanes, sidewalks, and commercial development, all with an eye to recreating the bustling district that existed during the plant’s best years. Developers are also leaving the door open to design changes, should the needs/habits of downtown residents change, such as altering planned parking if space isn’t needed.

Other Options

The developer is considering plenty of options when it comes to the Waterside mixed-use development. One such option is looking at potential workforce housing for residents like teachers, artists, and others. They haven’t reached a conclusion on how many units the workforce housing might entail or what income levels they would target. In the IBJ piece, they do say that they’d like a mix of visitors and residents and plan to cater to a wide demographic, instead of strictly high-end, luxury establishments. They’re also looking at potential ways that nearby residents could take advantage of the possible 11,000-13,000 jobs that may exist on the property. To that end, the city’s deputy mayor of community development, Jeff Bennett, said the city is working closely with Ambrose to ensure that the area receives the benefits of investment and development without being priced out.

The BAM Bottom Line: The planned Waterside project will take over a decade to reach its full potential, but offers the possibility of revitalizing the area and providing thousands of jobs as well as a variety of housing options (as well as retail, hotel, and more).