The landscape around downtown Indianapolis is about to change again.
Work is poised to start on several construction projects that have been stalled as developers waited for the city council to approve two Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts.
The plans include the much talked about, and much delayed, relocation of the Mass Ave. fire station and IFD headquarters. The city is now considering bids from several developers that would replace the station with a mixed-use residential and retail space along the popular stretch of road.
"It's just a huge, underdeveloped hole right in the middle of the district," said Micah Frank, co-owner of The Black Market restaurant on Mass Ave.
According to the mayor's office, the newly approved TIF district along Mass Ave. will allow construction to move forward because it provides a funding source for relocating the fire station.
The approval of another TIF district northwest of downtown also opens the door for an elaborate redevelopment plan to add a technology corridor along 16th Street and Indiana Avenue. That project has been stalled for more than a year because the city needed the TIF district to finance road improvements to accommodate several additional residential and retail spaces.
"It's going to be great," said Liz Richards, an IUPUI student who lives in the area. "It's definitely going to bring more traffic, something to do, more things to see, more people to meet."
As long as the TIF district passes its last hurdle in the Metropolitan Development Commission, the mayor's office promises it will be just a few months before they unveil redevelopment and relocation plans for the Mass Ave. fire station.
Firetrucks might not be the only familiar sight to disappear from the commercial area. School buses could also be going away.
The current IPS school bus lot and former Coca Cola bottling facility along Mass Ave. is also located within the new TIF district, meaning redevelopment talks can now begin.
"We can really get down to the finer points of sitting down with IPS," said Marc Lotter, spokesman for Mayor Ballard, "talking about what their vision and their needs are, what the development community might be interested in."
"That will really change the perception of what downtown living on the avenue will be I think," Frank said.
Though Frank said business is already good at The Black Market, he said the projects will mean a lot to the entire area.
"The most important thing is it's going to get the residential density downtown up where it needs to be," Frank said.
The city may also use the TIF district to help fund a portion of a new parking garage that is part of a development plan for a new Marsh grocery store and apartment complex near Mass Ave.