Indianapolis' powers-that-be have been hard at work starting up tax increment financing (TIF) districts and ensuring that some of the best parts of the city get property taxes diverted to a slush fund that they can use as they wish. The newest TIF stretches from 38th and Illinois and encompasses much of the Broad Ripple and Butler Tarkington area. The TIF was pushed by City-County Councillor John Barth (D-At Large). In documents while the TIF was being considered, its supporters said that the TIF was primarily for the neighborhoods and areas that haven't been doing well rather than the ones that currently are.
In reality, it should come as no surprise that the first proposed TIF project is renovating the old Shell gas station in Broad Ripple to slap a five story mix-use structure there instead. My friends Mark Small and Len Farber give excellent run downs of both the public meeting that was held earlier this week, as well as including details on the project.
Similar to the Broad Ripple parking garage, this new development is going to require millions of dollars to subsidize the development as well as a whole load of variances and re-zoning. According to Small, who was at the meeting held by the Broad Ripple Village Association, this project likely will not continue if Whole Foods is not signed on. They're aiming to have one tenant on the retail side, and they want it to be long term.
I have some sympathy for the developers when it comes to wanting to have one tenant. Some of the complaints about Massachusetts Avenue is that there are dozens of businesses that aren't something people window-shopping can utilize. Chiropractors, lawyers, and other non-retail and restaurants dot the area. I imagine part of the reason is that those types of businesses are more recession-proof than retail and food service. So having one tenant from a major chain, rather than 3-4 tenants that are locally based, makes some sense.
But that's about where my sympathy ends.
I'm sure the backers of this project will swear up and down that this will flush the TIF with cash and will allow them to get projects going in the more run-down areas, such as 38th and Illinois and 30th and Central.
I'll believe it when I see it. As far as I'm concerned, this is another slush fund project for Acting Mayor Ryan Vaughn and the more needy parts of the TIF can be damned.
I'll be on Civil Discourse Now tomorrow morning to discuss this issue with Mark Small and Paul Ogden. We'll be broadcasting from Good Earth, a locally owned natural foods store, at 11AM today. You can tune in by clicking the Play button on the Indiana Talks radio station, located in the upper right hand corner of this blog. You can also view the streaming video at Civil Discourse Now's online site.