Speedway’s vision of its future self

Speedway’s vision of its future self

Redesigned roads, new business and residential buildings, a race-themed center in the shadow of IMS

By Josh Duke
josh.duke@indystar.com

Downtown Speedway will soon have a closer connection to the racetrack that gives the Westside community its name, town officials say.

Hoping to attract investors to its long-neglected commercial center, the town plans to begin construction later this year on improvements that eventually will include a roundabout joining Main Street to Crawfordsville Road and 16th Street near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The town will start with a downtown Main Street redevelopment to be done by May 2011, in time for the 100th anniversary of the first Indianapolis 500.

The Main Street project is intended to fire up a redevelopment effort that civic leaders say will attract $263 million in private investment and transform the area around the track into a racing-themed entertainment center rivaling similar areas in Charlotte, N.C., and Daytona, Fla.

Private investors are expected to add new commercial and residential buildings as well as a parking garage in undeveloped areas on both sides of Main Street.

The roundabout — part of a relocation of 16th Street, set to begin next summer and finish by November 2011 — would simplify a tricky maze of intersecting roads that makes it difficult to access the track from Main Street.

Unlike many redevelopment and construction projects planned during the recession, the public money to start this one is in hand. Speedway’s Redevelopment Commission last year approved more than $60 million in bonds to set the stage for attracting the private investment for Main Street redevelopment, building the roundabout and relocating 16th Street. A special tax district has begun collecting property taxes generated in the redevelopment area to repay the bonds, said Scott Harris, executive director of the town’s redevelopment efforts.

More than $30 million in additional bonds would be issued by 2011 — as Main Street develops and more property taxes are rounded up in the district — for Holt Road improvements and a 10th Street realignment. Also, Georgetown Road would be converted into a linear park between 16th and 25th streets. Those portions of the project would bring the total public investment to about $92.7 million, according to projections.

The town, which has been working on a redevelopment plan for four years, decided to move Main Street improvements ahead of the roundabout and 16th Street improvements after receiving inquiries from more than 20 prospects, including at least 10 that are well along in the development process, Harris said.

Planning consultants are scheduled to present a block-by-block look at the Main Street project at a commission meeting today.

Chris Hill, co-owner of Dawson’s on Main, which opened about three years ago, said he and his family have considered adding another restaurant or two on Main.

“I would love nothing more than to see three or four more successful restaurants, some retail and race-related entertainment to make this a destination,” he said.

The entire project would redevelop 350 acres south of the track, with the goal of bringing in more retail and industry, and creating a racing-related theme to draw tourists and businesses by 2014.

According to an economic impact study by financial consulting firm Crowe Horwath, the redevelopment should generate more than 4,800 temporary full-time jobs to construct roads and buildings; more than 2,000 permanent full-time jobs in offices, retail and manufacturing by 2015; and an economic return of more than $570 million for the Indianapolis region from 2014 to 2023.

Abbe Hohmann, senior vice president for Colliers Turley Martin Tucker real estate, said she believes Speedway is positioning itself for success if it can secure the millions of public dollars needed for the other downtown improvements.

“Any redevelopment of an older suburban Indianapolis area like Speedway will entice investment,” she said. “Private investment may start out slow because of the economy, but they will be in a great position when the economy recovers.”

While the plan has drawn criticism from a few local business owners and residents who could lose land for the road relocations and other improvements, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and others have endorsed the project.

“We consider ourselves a world-class racing facility,” said IMS President Joie Chitwood. “We continue to support the town’s redevelopment efforts because we want our community to be of the same stature.”

Additional Facts

By the numbers
• 6,800: Potential jobs created by the redevelopment: 4,800 temporary full-time jobs to construct roads and buildings, and 2,000 full-time positions in retail, manufacturing and offices by 2015.
• $92.7 million: Projected money to be spent by the town for infrastructure upgrades for the Speed Zone Redevelopment Project through 2013.
• $263 million: Projected money to be spent by private investors by 2013.
• $570 million: Projected economic return from 2014 to 2023.

Source: Crowe Horwath

If you go
• What: Speedway Redevelopment Commission meeting.
• When: 6 p.m. today.
• Where: Speedway Public Library, 5633 W. 25th St.

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Contact Info

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Tim Gropp
Economic Development Director
(317) 240-1315

Tim Ramion
Executive Assistant
(317) 481-0847

5620 Crawfordsville Rd, Suite M
Speedway, Indiana 46224

Phone: (317) 481-0847

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