Brokers fear criminal justice complex could harm downtown Indianapolis

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Creating a new criminal justice complex outside of downtown Indianapolis will mean big changes for the Mile Square, and some real estate brokers think the transition will be painful.

The southeast quadrant of downtown will lose criminal courts, two jails, prosecutors' and public defenders' offices, community corrections offices, and possibly bail bondsmen and criminal-practice lawyers’ offices. Mayor Greg Ballard’s deputies believe developers will readily fill the void, but real estate brokers for office space are worried.

Downtown constituents heard both views Thursday afternoon in a forum presented by Indianapolis Downtown Inc.

“I believe there’s going to be an infill effect between Angie’s List and downtown,” Kurt Fullbeck, Ballard's senior policy advisor for economic development, told the small gathering at The Platform office space, next door to City Market. The Angie's List corporate campus is located along East Washington Street, just east of Interstates 65 and 70.

“People want to be downtown," Fullbeck said. "It’s coming slower than the brokers would like.”

While demand for downtown apartments is strong, the office market is anemic. The vacancy rate is more than 21 percent, and 2013 was the fifth year in a row of negative absorption rates, said Jon Owens, managing director at Cassidy Turley, who sat on the panel with Fullbeck.

Owens noted that the market has added no new, leasable office space in 20 years.  

Lawyers are a big factor in the current market. Two office buildings, the Gold Building and 251 E. Ohio St., would take major hits with the exodus of the public defenders' and prosecutors' offices, Owens said.

Fullbeck pointed out that it will take three years to build out the criminal justic complex, which Ballard has recommended situating on the former General Motors stamping plant site west of the White River. That would provide time to work with the owners of the Gold Building and 251 E. Ohio St., he said.

Fullbeck said the request for proposals from developers, due out this month, will not include office space for the Marion County prosecutor and public defender. That space will be built under a separate procurement process, which he said will allow the developer to decide whether to build additional leasable space for other users, such as jail-service providers.

Office real estate brokers aren’t the only ones who are worried. City Market has become a thriving hub for food vendors, thanks largely to lunchtime foot traffic from the City-County Building and other offices that house criminal justice-related functions.

“We have experienced a certain renaissance. We want to know the recuperation plan and the back-fill plan, because it does drive a lot of the market,” said Stevie Stoesz, City Market manager.

Gus Miller of Olympia Asset Management said he wouldn't mind seeing the offices of Marion County Community Corrections, which works with people on home detention, depart downtown. But if civil courts eventually move, too, that could upset the downtown “ecosystem,” he said.

“Savory, unsavory, whatever the characters are, they’re spending money downtown,” said Rick Trimpe, vice president at CBRE, who represents the owners of the Gold Building and 251 E. Ohio St.


  • WAKE UP!!!
    Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.