In their first meeting of the year, the Marion Redevelopment Commission took steps to sell properties that were once key to plans for a tech company, apartments, a hockey arena, a varied entertainment venue, a medical park and other economic development plans that often led to taxpayer investment with little economic development.
City properties owned by the Commission by the at Ind. 18 and Interstate 69 is up for sale.
Herb Spitzer, city attorney, requested the commission approve moving forward with listing the properties, which includes advertising in two separate newspapers and accepting bids. The commission unanimously voted to begin advertising the sale.
The two parcels to be sold are located on the west side of I-69, just north of Love’s Travel Shop. Roughly 12 acres in total, Ed Merchant, vice president of the redevelopment commission, said it’s property that was acquired during the Wayne Seybold era.
“It was Wayne’s (Seybold) wish to have certain shovel-ready properties so that if a developer came in you didn’t have to tear down a woods or fill in somebody’s duck pond,” he said.
Seybold’s administration made the area a focal point for economic development plans during his last two terms as Mayor.
Mayor Jess Alumbaugh is in favor of selling the properties as he has stated before he’d like for the city to own less property.
“I think the city should get out of the property business,” he said. “I just think we need to get out of it and let business people do what they do. City government wasn’t intended for this.”
Spitzer said the land has been appraised two separate times. One appraiser valued the land at $6,000 an acre while the other appraiser had the property at $8,000 an acre. The average of the estimates is $7,000.
The average figure is important, Spitzer said, because according to statute if the city does not receive an offer equal or greater to the average they can accept a bid on the day the bids are submitted.
The city has already received an offer, though it cannot accept it yet, from Quatro Real Estate Holdings LLC and Mike Anderson for $6,000 an acre. Quatro owns two parcels of land in the same area and Merchant believes they might be trying to “square it out.” If Quatro were to purchase the two parcels from the city, it would own the majority of the property just north of the Flying J truck stop.
The commission will meet again on Feb. 14 at 9 a.m. to open bids.
Toward the end of the meeting, Alumbaugh discussed the future of the Beatniks building downtown. The building, which dates back to the 19th century, has been closed since 2015.
The mayor said he hopes the building will be sold soon. However, he added that the city will more than likely not include the courtyard, on the west side of the building, in the sale.
“My hope is and desire is not to send the courtyard with the purchaser, but retain that until they bring in, as they develop that building, a sustainable business that’s a good fit for the downtown,” he said.
Alumbaugh said that if a business comes in and has sustained success he would consider selling the courtyard area. Holding on to the property, the mayor said, gives the city more control on what sort of establishment comes to downtown.
“I think it’s huge for the development of downtown that we get the right kind of business in that building,” he said.