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IPS could sell historic building to city for project

IPS school board’s resources committee met Wednesday.
IPS school board’s resources committee met Wednesday.

A company could bring a “significant” number of new jobs to the city if the Indianapolis Public School Board agrees to sell a historic property it owns on Southeastern Avenue.

That’s what Deputy Mayor Deron Kintner told the board’s resources committee Wednesday. He said he could not name the company but described it having a “presence” in Indianapolis currently.

“This will lead to a lot of jobs and property taxes,” he said. “I wish I could tell you more but that’s all I can discuss now.”

The site is near the historic “Mallory Complex” area on the East side. The company would like the city to acquire a district-owned building at 1316 Southeastern Ave., which currently warehouses furniture and supplies for schools. It would then buy the building from the city.

Board members were generally supportive of working toward a sale.

“It’s an opportunity for IPS to become more efficient,” said board member Sam Odle, who chairs the resources committee. “A lot of companies have become very efficient at getting out of the warehouse business.”

In 2012, the Indianapolis Business Journal wrote about efforts by the non-profit Southeast Neighborhood Development to redevelop the neighboring “Mallory” site, including placing some of the buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Journal reported that the area once included baseball fields and that the Indianapolis Indians baseball team originally played there. An amusement park called Wonderland burned down in 1911, the Journal reported.

Board member Gayle Cosby said her grandmother worked at the Mallory Complex, but not in the IPS-owned building, and used to tell her stories about it. She said the district would research the historic significance of its buildings and examine the company’s plan for it.

“I definitely want to learn more,” she said. “We always vet these things through the community and we’re always open to discussion.”

Kintner said the company wanted to know by the end of the year if IPS was willing to sell and noted that it is mostly interested in a four-story building on the site that faces Washington and Gray streets. The company, he said, was willing to discuss sharing space, at least initially, as IPS’ warehouse is on the other side of the property. Ultimately, there would be “substantial construction” at the property, Kintner said.

The board’s cooperation, he said, was critical to Indianapolis’ chances to land the new facility.

“This is the only Indianapolis site being considered,” Kintner said. “Without it, it puts the project at some peril.”

Superintendent Lewis Ferebee said his staff would research a potential sale.

“I wouldn’t want the board to make a decision today,” he said. “But if there is interest in selling the property the administration would need more time to have a conversation with the mayor’s office.”

The company Kintner said, prefers not to be named while it explores options, but could reveal more if IPS’ site emerges as the front runner for the new facility.

“I think it’s only fair we would reveal more to you and we would advocate for that with the company,” he said.

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