GM stamping plant site fetches 4 proposals, valued at up to $1 billion – Indianapolis Star
The former General Motors stamping plant site in Indianapolis likely will become a mixed-use development with public access to the White River, based on several proposals that have been submitted to the site’s owner.
Four Indianapolis developers have offered to buy the 102-acre site and build projects ranging in cost from $500 million to $1 billion, said Bruce Rasher, redevelopment manager for RACER (Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response) Trust. RACER, which owns the site, is reviewing the proposals and hopes to complete a sale by the end of the year.
“All of the offers involved intensive, transformative mixed-use development with connectivity to the surrounding neighborhood and Downtown, as per the city’s vision, and to varying extents taking advantage of the White River as an amenity,” Rasher said. “We’re very pleased by the response.”
Rasher declined to name the prospective developers or provide details on their offers, citing confidentiality agreements. RACER’s deadline for offers was Wednesday.
Assuming RACER accepts one of the offers it received, the winning bidder would become the second developer to get a shot at the site. RACER in 2014 agreed to sell it to Carmel developer REI Investments, which planned to build a 15,000-seat amphitheater. Former Mayor Greg Ballard also wanted the city to acquire a portion of the land for a new criminal justice center. Both plans fell through in 2015.
The former GM stamping plant site sits on the White River, south of Washington Street and the Indianapolis Zoo. Most of the factory was demolished in 2013.
RACER and the city recently completed a six-month process in which they sought input from the surrounding neighborhood, called the Valley, to guide prospective developers. Likely developments include office, residential, hospitality and light industrial. Rasher declined to say whether the proposals included any common elements aside from river access.
RACER will review the four proposals and select a developer based on several criteria, including offer price, potential job creation at the site, how well the proposal matches neighborhood wishes and the reputation of the developer. RACER won’t necessarily choose the highest bidder.
“It’s more important for us to pick the right concept and to pick a developer that has a capacity to actually undertake a development of this size,” Rasher said.
RACER is not a typical property owner. The group was formed in 2011 to clean up and sell 89 former GM plant locations, including the Indianapolis factory. It has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the community.
While RACER has been preparing to sell the site, Indianapolis also has been taking action to ease development. The city in October added the former factory site to the Downtown tax-increment financing district. TIF is a process in which the city issues bonds to pay for infrastructure, such as streetwork and utilities, and repays the money with rising property taxes.
Indianapolis could use TIF money to pay for work on South and Division streets, White River Parkway and Oliver Avenue that would improve access to the site and incorporate it into the Valley. Although the city does not control the site, it has an interest in accommodating redevelopment.
“Where we see the city’s role right away is fulfilling those infrastructure and connection roles that the neighborhood has brought up and the site will require no matter what,” Jeff Bennett, the city’s deputy mayor for community development, said in a recent interview. “We wanted to be proactive there.”
While RACER hopes to move as quickly as possible, Rasher said the group’s selection process could last into 2018. There’s no guarantee that any of the four bidders will acquire the site.
“This is a very complex development,” Rasher said. “I can say that RACER and the city has done everything possible and within its control for a positive outcome at the property. But there’s a lot of work to be done before we get to the finish line.”
Call IndyStar reporter James Briggs at (317) 444-6307. Follow him on Twitter: @JamesEBriggs.