More than six months ago, city officials agreed to provide financial incentives to help fund a sports and retail complex in Greenwood, but construction has yet to begin as a final contract detailing the responsibilities of the city and two developers remains under negotiation.
In June, Greenwood officials, along with Indy Fuel owners Jim and Sean Hallett and Indianapolis-based developer Gershman Partners, unveiled an ambitious plan to develop a long-dormant 105-acre property east of Interstate 65 and south of County Line Road.
The Halletts plan to build a $25 million sports complex complete with ice rinks, turf fields and basketball courts. Gershman Partners plans to construct the first phase of a shopping center, with plans for a $15 million project including a movie theater, entertainment center and up to 10 additional restaurants or retailers. The project could also include up to three eight-story hotels.
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In return, the city agreed to provide $8.5 million in financial incentives to the developers. The Greenwood Redevelopment Commission unanimously approved paying the incentives from property taxes collected by the city’s tax increment financing, or TIF, districts.
The Halletts would receive $3 million in reimbursements for construction of the Sportsplex. Gershman Partners would receive $3.7 million in reimbursements for infrastructure improvements to the property. And the city would spend $1.8 million on improvements to nearby roads and intersections.
The city and developers signed letters of intent — non-binding legal documents — with the goal of completing a final contract by the end of August, which could have allowed for some construction work to begin that fall. That deadline, and at least two others, passed without any contract being finished. City officials said they still expect the deal will be complete and that the length of negotiations is largely the result of the complexity of the deal. Neither developer agreed to discuss the status of the negotiations.
“It is continuing to move forward,” said Brent Tilson, the president of the redevelopment commission. “Meetings continue to happen. There has been extensive legal work by all parties because it is a complicated deal.”
Several projects at the same location on I-65 have fallen through in recent years, such as proposals for Cabela’s, an outdoor sports retailer, then an indoor sports complex and hotel.
Because the city is working with two separate developers, not just one, the final contract will need to be set up in a way that ensures that all parties will fulfill their ends of the deal, Tilson said.
“The biggest challenges have been that we have so many parties involved and everyone wants to make sure everyone is committed because each one hangs on each other,” he said.
One of the key questions still at stake in the negotiations is what types of protections the city will have in place for its financial incentives should the projects by the Halletts and Gershmans not live up to their projections, Tilson said.
One of the remaining parts of the contract that is still being negotiated is how the city might be reimbursed for its financial incentives should either developer not reach certain goals, he said.
“We want to make sure whatever is built there will pay the tax money back by the time the TIF (district) expires,” Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said.
The TIF district that covers the area where the sports and retail complex will be developed is set to expire in about 12 years, meaning that the redevelopment commission has a short period after construction is complete to recoup its financial investment through property taxes paid by the developers, he said.
Ideally, negotiations would be complete in time for construction to begin in the spring, but Myers said that the city needs to take the time to get the contract done correctly.
“We want to make sure we take our time and make the proper decision,” he said.
More meetings between the city and developers are set to take place this month, Tilson said.
Greenwood is negotiating an $8.5 million incentive package for a development near Interstate 65 that includes the Greenwood Sportsplex. Here’s a breakdown of the incentives:
$3 million construction reimbursements to Sean and Jim Hallett for building the Sportsplex
$3.7 in reimbursements for infrastructure improvements to Gershman Partners for the work on the property
$1.8 million in work on nearby roads and intersections, paid for by the city to the roadwork companies
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