Public-private partnership proposed for Indy justice center

Marion County’s proposed criminal justice center should be financed through a public-private partnership, the task force studying the proposal announced Friday.

Under the design-build statute, the city would select design and construction teams through a competitive process that would offer proposals for a new jail, assessment and intervention facility, and courts building. The task force says the center could be built without tax increases using the design-build method.

Mayor Joe Hogsett in January announced plans to build the complex at the former Citizens Gas and Coke Utility plant site in the Twin Aire neighborhood just about three miles southeast of downtown Indianapolis, in the 2900 block of East Prospect Avenue. The plan calls for an intervention center that will assess arrestees for mental illness and substance abuse with an emphasis on linking services to those in need.

The task force has estimated the cost of the development at about $575 million, but depending on the structure of lease payments, the city could pay several times more. Former Mayor Greg Ballard’s plan for a public-private justice center on the former General Motors Stamping Plant came with a long-term price tag of about $1.75 billion in lease payments over decades.

The task force also suggests a private development model for a professional office building that also would house the Marion County prosecutor and public defender offices as anchors. That building would be expected to spur further development near the campus and on the surrounding neighborhood, the memo released Friday said.

Marion County judges are set to determine by May 1 whether they endorse moving courts from their current location in the City-County Building to the new location adjacent to the proposed justice complex. The City-County Council will have to approve financing and design plans later this year.

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