The City of Indianapolis Department of Public Safety conducted a security sweep of the once luxury apartment complex Keystone Towers on Wednesday. The goal says Pubic Information Officer John Bartholomew is "to ensure there is no one on the property" before the buildings can be torn down.
Although the vacant buildings have been boarded for years, vagrants continue to get inside. Police have complained for years that illegal drug operations often take place on the property. Many of the exterior walls are covered with graffiti. There is trash and dirty furniture dumped in the parking lot.
Crews wearing protective gear spent Wednesday clearing Keystone Towers on the northeast side of Indianapolis. Despite the condition of both towers city officials were concerned people may have still been living inside.
“We had to sweep it and make sure there are no vagrants, homeless individuals or criminal activity going on,” said Reggie Walton, City of Indianapolis Director of Abandoned and Unsafe Properties.
After Keystone Towers was shut down in August 2008, city officials admitted the no trespassing sign out front did little to stop people from going inside the unsafe and unsanitary building deemed unfit for human habitation.
“There's a lot of debris, there's a lot of feces, there's a lot of mold,” said Walton.
Walton said the buildings were once a swanky apartment complex, home to professional football players and business people, but after mismanagement it became an eyesore.
Neighbors said the building has been a safe haven for criminals.
“It has always been a security issue with the folks that work in our building,” said Mike Patrick, Sheet Metal Workers Local 20 Apprenticeship Administrator.
The Sheet Metal Workers Local 20 building sits across from the dilapidated, former apartment complex.
According to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, officers have been sent to the complex address 78 times since Mid 2002.
“There have been times I've come in and there have been guys hiding in their cars because stuff has been thrown out the windows and there have been shootings over there,” said Joe Potesta, an instructor with Sheet Metal Workers Local 20.
The city’s goal is to board up the building for the last time and tear it down by the end of the year to make room for something new on a piece of property that sits beside a major thoroughfare. The only problem is that it will cost $2 million, money the city has yet to secure.
“Our number one source we’re looking at is neighborhood stabilization program funds,” said Walton.
Walton also said the city already applied for that funding. Once demolition is complete, city officials will issue a request for proposals to get a better idea about how the site may be redeveloped.
In the meantime, IMPD officers will be patrolling the area. City officials have also promised regular inspections.