An ice rink complex originally proposed for Freedom Park is moving closer to the interstate as a joint project with developers of a previously planned shopping center.
The Greenwood Iceplex, to be developed by Indy Fuel owners Jim and Sean Hallett, is now planned to be built on land southeast of the Interstate 65 and County Line Road interchange in conjunction with Indianapolis-based Gershman Partners, which had been planning a massive retail and entertainment development called Greenwood Town Center.
The Greenwood Redevelopment Commission approved providing $8.5 million in financial incentives for the two private projects, which will cost upward of $40 million.
When the Halletts approached Greenwood officials this spring about constructing an ice rink complex, they initially settled on plans for a four-rink, 115,000-square-foot hockey facility in Freedom Park on six acres of land south of the Freedom Springs Aquatic Center.
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In return for the Hallett’s $20 million investment, the city offered a $450,000 tax break and to lease the land to the Halletts for $1 a month over 60 years.
But public opposition to the location caused the developers and city officials to opt for another location, arranging for the facility be built on land southeast of the I-65 and County Line Road interchange that the city has long viewed as a significant site for economic development.
A majority of members on both the Greenwood City Council and redevelopment commission said they opposed placing the iceplex in Freedom Park, but were supportive of an alternative location.
The new location for the ice rink complex combined with the Gershman Partners project makes much more sense than the original Freedom Park plans, redevelopment commission and city council member Chuck Landon said.
City officials had been working to negotiate a new location for the iceplex since April, Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said.
Myers described the past three months of negotiations and planning as arduous and nail-biting, but said he was pleased with the result.
The timing of the Hallett and Gershman projects lining up was a coincidence, but the plan couldn’t have worked out better for the city, Greenwood Redevelopment Commission President Brent Tilson said.
He described the partnership of the two organizations as a perfect marriage for the city. The development will help spur growth on the east side of Greenwood, Tilson said.
The 105 acres east of I-65 were planned as the Greenwood Town Center to be developed by Indianapolis-based Gershman Partners as a $90 million, 700,000-square-foot shopping center. Before that, the site was proposed as a new location for Cabela’s, an outdoor sports retailer, then an indoor sports complex and hotel, but each of those plans fell through.
The Hallett’s $25 million facility, to be called the Greenwood Sportsplex, has grown to 175,000 square feet with the addition of five basketball courts. The Halletts will purchase up to 22 acres of land and could later add a 240-room hotel and a sports medicine facility.
The I-65 location was one the Halletts had first considered in Greenwood, but initially opted with the Freedom Park site because of the extra costs associated with infrastructure and building parking, Sean Hallett said.
The sportsplex is expected to open in 2019. The facility will include two ice rinks, two turf rinks that can be converted to ice rinks, five basketball courts that can be split and used as volleyball courts, a fitness and training facility, a medical facility and food services.
The Halletts are looking for a partner to develop the hotel, Hallett said.
Gershman Partners will spend $15 million in its first phase of the project to bring in a movie theater, entertainment venue, shops and restaurants. Agreements are already in place with two anchor tenants: Xscape Theatres and Main Event Entertainment, which has activities such as bowling and laser tag. Another 10 outlots will be available for shops and restaurants. Some have been leased already while others are still available.
While the project was formerly to be called the Greenwood Town Center, Gershman is in the process of renaming and rebranding the site, a spokesperson said.
Gershman originally proposed a $90 million, 700,000-square-foot shopping center, with a different variety of shops than the Greenwood Park Mall. Construction was set to begin in 2016 and be completed this year, but the project was delayed due to challenges in recruiting tenants. Now, with the addition of the sportsplex, plans at the 100-acre site look much different than what was initially proposed.
The project highlights the importance of public-private partnerships in sparking economic development, said Ryan Gershman, a principal at Gershman Partners.
Adding the sportsplex into the Greenwood Town Center project will help address some of the challenges faced by the retail industry, he said.
“When we started this project, we always knew there needed to be an entertainment component,” Gershman said. “Given the regional draw of the sportsplex, it was a natural fit with other office, retail, entertainment and dining.”
Future phases of Gershman Partners’ development on the property include additional shops and restaurants as well as medical and office space. A timeline for construction has not been set, he said.
The Halletts and Gershman Partners will receive $8.5 million in financial assistance for the project, if city boards give their approval.
The redevelopment commission approved contributing $3.7 million to site improvements for the Gershman project, $1.8 million for infrastructure improvements to County Line Road and Graham Road, including new traffic signals, and reimbursing the Halletts $3 million over 10 years to cover a portion of the sportsplex costs. The annual payments will be tied to the facility remaining open.
The proposal is among the largest incentives the city has offered, but could be the biggest the city has ever paid out.
Medco, which eventually selected a location in Whitestown instead, was offered an incentive package worth up to $21.2 million to bring 1,300 mostly high-paying professional jobs to the city.
The city council spent $130,000 upfront and offered Cabela’s an $18 million loan to construct a 125,000-square-foot store in a project that would have included a hotel and indoor water park complex, several restaurants and other retailers. The project was never completed.
The cost of purchasing the land, completing infrastructure and building parking lots required a larger investment from the city to make the new location financially comparable to the Freedom Park site, Hallett said.
The redevelopment commission conducted a special meeting Monday night and approved the financial incentives.
The board of zoning appeals and advisory plan commission will also need to give their approvals for the project. The Indiana Department of Transportation and city of Indianapolis will need to approve any improvements to County Line Road.
What: The Greenwood Sportsplex, a sports complex that would be the largest hockey complex in the state and one of the biggest in the Midwest, will cover 175,000 square feet and cost $25 million.
Details: Two ice rinks, two turf fields which are planned to be later converted to ice rinks, five basketball courts that can also be used for volleyball, a 4,000-square-foot fitness and training facility open to the public, retail space, locker rooms and food service. The ice rinks will be used for hockey, skating, figure skating, speed skating, curling, broomball and other ice sports.
Owned by: Jim and Sean Hallett, owners of minor-league hockey team Indy Fuel
What: A $15 million retail and entertainment center with about a dozen restaurants and business
Details: Xscape Theatres, Main Event Entertainment and about 10 additional shops and restaurants
Owned by: Indianapolis-based Gershman Partners
About 100 acres of land southeast of the Interstate 65 and County Line Road intersection has long been eyed as a potential spot for development, but it has remained vacant.
June 2007: Cabela’s announces plans for a Greenwood store and indoor water park as part of a 100-acre retail and entertainment project.
July 2009: Cabela’s drops plans for the Greenwood store, citing a decision to cut costs due to the tough economy.
April 2014: GoodSports Enterprises Global hotel and athletics complex proposed.
November 2014: Goodsports announced the project is canceled after the company couldn’t secure funding for the project.
October 2015: Gershman Partners announces plans for the Greenwood Town Center, a $90 million, 700,000 square foot shopping center
June 2017: Indy Fuel Owners Jim and Sean Hallett proposed developing a $25 million, 175,000 square foot sports facility. Gershman Partners proposed a movie theater, entertainment venue, stores and restaurants as the first phase of its development at the property.