Officials considering new Indianapolis sites for planned $25M state archives building


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INDIANAPOLIS — State officials are considering new Indianapolis sites for a proposed state archives building after state lawmakers blocked the project from being built along the city's downtown canal.

The state budget approved by the General Assembly last week includes $25 million toward a new archives building among projects to mark Indiana's bicentennial of statehood in 2016.

State Archivist Jim Corridan said Monday that project planners were looking at several downtown locations and were hoping to have a site selected soon so design work can begin, with construction at least underway next year.

The spot rejected by lawmakers is currently green space just across the street from the Indiana State Library and across the canal from the headquarters of the nonprofit Indiana Historical Society.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said he didn't believe the canal spot was a large enough property for the archives.

"If you build that building there now, 20 years from now it's too small," Kenley said. "I just thought that there were other choices."

The state archives collection has executive, legislative and judicial records dating back to Indiana's territorial government of the 1790s, including the 1816 and 1851 state constitutions. That collection has been stored in a warehouse on the east side of Indianapolis that lacks museum-quality climate controls since being moved from the state library building during a 2001 renovation.

Corridan said the archives has struggled to maintain its relationship with other state agencies since it is located several miles from the Statehouse and its nearby state office buildings.

The other possible archive locations downtown will also put it closer to the other major Indiana historical collections at the state library and the historical society, he said.

"It would've been nice to have the three of them within easy walking distance of each other," Corridan said. "Hopefully, we'll still be within walking distance of the other two institutions and just a little further away."

The state budget plan designates money for other projects proposed by Gov. Mike Pence to commemorate the state's bicentennial year, including $24 million for building an inn at Potato Creek State Park near South Bend, $2 million to transform a street just west of the Statehouse into a public plaza and $2.5 million toward an education center at the state library.

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