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City hangs open-for-business sign


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A former supermarket on U.S. 31 and an area of downtown Greenwood with three empty lots are on the city’s list of areas to be redeveloped.

Greenwood wants to spend $22.2 million over the next decade on projects downtown to attract commercial development. Most of the work would improve infrastructure, such as sewer lines and sidewalks. The goal is to develop vacant land and redevelop rundown buildings into office, restaurant and retail space, ultimately revitalizing the city’s downtown.

The money would come from an expanded tax-increment financing, or TIF, district, which would set aside property tax dollars for economic development projects.

City officials, including director of community development services Mark Richards, city attorney Krista Taggart and Mayor Mark Myers, decided on the boundaries of the area the city wants to see added to the TIF district, which

includes the Marsh store at Smith Valley Road and U.S. 31 that closed in 2012, and the Market Plaza area, which includes three empty lots, a former Salvation Army building and some small businesses.

The Greenwood Redevelopment Commission included the infrastructure plans for those areas in a recent proposal for expanding the special taxing district. Myers had pushed to expand the existing TIF district to include 2,000 acres of property around downtown.

If approved, the city could spend property tax dollars on the downtown projects. The city also would be able to collect TIF money from new commercial development downtown.

Creating a TIF district freezes the existing property values that other governments collect property taxes on and then captures as TIF funds the taxes on new development and growth in property values. The captured money is intended to be spent on economic development projects in a designated geographic area. The city redevelopment commission oversees spending of the TIF money.

If the plan commission and city council approve the TIF district expansion by the end of February, then the eastside TIF district would double to 4,000 acres in size.

The district currently surrounds the Interstate 65 exits at Main Street and County Line Road and earns about $6 million annually. Expanding it under the current proposal would add to the district properties on Madison Avenue and Main Street between County Line Road and the city’s southern edge, potentially bringing in more money as more development happens.

Sewer and drainage projects downtown are part of the city’s

10-year capital project plans, but other projects could happen this year. For example, the city wants to market the existing city hall building before city offices move into the renovated former Presnell building in the spring. And $500,000 budgeted for city airport projects could get spent on taxiway repair work slated for the summer.

A schedule for when all

$22.2 million in projects should be finished hasn’t been set, and money collected in the new part of the TIF district will have to build up before some of the larger projects, such as widening sidewalks and streets, can be done, Taggart said.

At Market Plaza, near Madison Avenue and Main Street, the city plans to spend $5.25 million to improve streets and, if property owners give permission, raise land that is in a flood plain so it can be developed more easily.

The most expensive proposed project — estimated to cost

$8.25 million — is along Main Street. Work would include widening sidewalks and the street, relocating utility lines, redeveloping Old City Park and restoring historic buildings. The city hasn’t decided yet which and how many buildings will be restored.

Moving the utility lines would improve the appearance of Main Street, and the roads and sidewalks are undersized and need to be expanded, Myers said.

The proposed $3.75 million in sanitation and stormwater projects would reduce flooding, replace old pipes and repair a creek — all of which were already part of city capital improvement plans, Taggart said.

At the southeast corner of County Line Road and Madison Avenue, a former restaurant and a liquor store were being demolished this week, freeing up another lot for commercial development downtown, Myers said. That land is in a floodplain, and Marion County would need to improve rainwater drainage to make the land at that corner more marketable, he said. County Line Road was under 18 inches of water during recent flooding, making the area impassable, he said.

Possible uses for empty downtown land, such as lots in the Market Plaza area, and old buildings include office space with condominiums above them, apartments, a furniture retailer for the Marsh store and grocery stores, Myers said.

Medical offices and restaurants also would be suitable for the Marsh store area and elsewhere downtown, city council member Ezra Hill said.

Greenwood won’t market properties, except for the former city hall building. But widening roads and sidewalks, improving rainwater drainage to a creek, adding rainwater collection ponds and building bike paths would improve the area.

“Once we do the infrastructure, then those (property owners) will be able to more readily promote their buildings,” Myers said. “It makes it more marketable.”

The city also wants to discourage gas stations and convenience stores from building downtown, he said.

Greenwood’s to-do list

The following are the projects the city of Greenwood is including in its plans for attracting businesses and revitalizing the city’s downtown and nearby:

Up to $200,000 to market and prepare to sell the Polk building at 2 N. Madison Ave., which is the current city hall.

$8.25 million to reconstruct and widen sidewalks and streets, change traffic patterns, move overhead utilities underground, increase parking, restore historic buildings and redevelop Old City Park.

$5.25 million to improve streets and alter land to prepare the Market Plaza area for development.

$1 million to repair and replace sanitary sewer lines.

$750,000 to inspect manholes and sewer lines and make sewer repairs outside downtown.

$1 million to improve Tracy Ditch, possibly add more rainwater retention capacity and replace or repair pipes.

$1 million to build a rainwater detention pond to slow water draining into Pleasant Creek, and also to improve the creek channel through Old City Park.

$2.5 million to fund façade repairs and restoration on buildings downtown.

$500,000 for the city airport, to help pay for taxiway repairs.

$1.75 million to buy land and pay for other costs of creating downtown paths, sidewalks and trails for walking or biking.

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