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In 1985, with the assistance of the Indiana General Assembly, the City of Indianapolis established the Indianapolis Local Public Improvement Bond Bank, the first municipal bond bank in the country. The Bond Bank is a municipal corporation that serves as the debt issuance and management arm of the City of Indianapolis and related “Qualified Entities.” These entities include special taxing districts, political subdivisions, and building/leasing authorities. Since its inception, the Indianapolis Local Public Improvement Bond Bank has issued nearly $13 billion in bonds and notes on behalf of various Qualified Entities of the City of Indianapolis and Marion County.
The Bond Bank’s structure allows for the centralized management and supervision of all debt issued by governmental entities throughout Marion County. By coordinating all locally-issued debt, including general obligation and revenue bonds, the Bond Bank provides leadership and guidance through the capital markets and the sale of municipal bonds and other debt instruments. For example, the Bond Bank coordinates the timing of all city and Qualified Entity bond sales. The Bond Bank also maintains relationships and regular communications with representatives from the national credit rating agencies and assists with securing ratings when necessary and providing frequent updates to the agencies on the City’s economy, employment figures, major developments, and the annual budget and audit process. The Bond Bank actively monitors local and national bond markets, as well as financial and economic trends that impact bond issuance structures, timing, and interest rates.
With the assistance of the professionals employed by the various Qualified Entities, the Bond Bank also prepares documents related to bond issuances, manages trustee banks and the collection and disbursement of bond proceeds. The Bond Bank is also primarily responsible for investor outreach and communication, including obligations under continuing disclosure agreements. By centralizing the management of all debt issued by local government entities, the debt management process is simplified and the Bond Bank can provide organization, structure, and consistency to investors interested in purchasing securities issued by Indianapolis entities.
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By the fall of 2024, IndyGo’s Purple Line is expected to provide some of the city’s most distressed neighborhoods along the East 38th Street corridor and northward with better access to jobs, groceries and safe travel.
But before the $188 million rapid-transit bus line moves its first passenger, there’s still a lot of work to do. Building of passenger stations has yet to begin; all progress so far has laid the groundwork for future construction.
IndyGo broke ground on the Purple Line in late February, and construction has been on track since, said IndyGo spokeswoman Carrie Black, although she cautioned that supply chain challenges or other problems could still cause delays at some point.
“Right now, we’re going through and laying the groundwork and infrastructure for the line, including some storm sewer separation, street paving, sidewalks and curb ramps,” Black told IBJ in an email.
The agency has also acquired all necessary land for the line, which will include dedicated bus lanes. The Purple Line will run from downtown to the Ivy Tech Community College campus just south of Fort Harrison State Park, in the heart of Lawrence. It replaces Route 39, one of IndyGo’s busiest, and will provide more frequent service.
Improvements to the rapid-transit version of the route, besides the dedicated bus lanes, include nearly 10 miles of additional or repaired sidewalks and nearly 27 miles of street resurfacing. IndyGo is also working with Citizens Energy Group on stormwater improvements.
Purple Line construction is currently causing its second major detour. Westbound lanes of East 38th Street from Keystone Avenue to Emerson Avenue closed July 11; they are scheduled to reopen in November.
Contractors have recently poured concrete for the terminus, a bus-charging facility at the end of the line, at Ivy Tech. It will include a break area for bus drivers.
The first 12 stops of the Purple Line, starting downtown, are shared with the Red Line, IndyGo’s first bus rapid-transit line, which opened in September 2019. The remaining 18 stations on the 15.2-mile line, mostly along 38th Street and Post Road, will not be built until next year, Black said.
The Purple Line is partially funded by an $81 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant. The rest comes from a combination of local and federal sources.
Bloomington-based Crider & Crider Inc. is being paid $95.6 million for its work on roads, drainage and sidewalks. Indianapolis-based F.A. Wilhelm Construction Co. is building the bus stations, for $18.2 million.
IT TAKES ROUGHLY an hour and a 3-mile walk to travel between the future of downtown and its past. One sunny day this summer, I took that walk, simultaneously traversing the current Indianapolis, the one it supplanted, and the one that will soon replace both of them.
Beginning in the Bottleworks District at High Alpha—the venture studio that has created nearly $1 billion in local economic impact through its tech portfolio companies—I walked down Mass Ave toward the old GM Stamping Plant.
For 80 years, the hulking, 2.1 million-square-foot site powered much of the local economy, employing thousands. Instead of portfolio companies, it stamped Chevrolet trucks and buses. But cities and economies change. Abandoned since 2010, the GM Stamping Plant spot is finally moving in the right direction again. Elanco Animal Health broke ground this spring on a $100 million headquarters there, which city leaders hope will transform the blighted industrial area back into the bustling spot it once was.
As I got closer to the land nestled along the White River, I looked to my right and saw a sign. “FIND WHAT’S NEXT” read a giant poster draped on the Indiana State Museum, almost cheering me on as I got closer to my destination.
That’s what civic boosters here are trying to do right now: find what’s next for a somewhat bleary-eyed city. Indianapolis finds itself in the middle of a “vibe shift.” The pandemic-era term, coined by trend-forecasting consultant Sean Monahan and popularized by _New York _magazine earlier this year, is exactly what it sounds like: a cultural change, following a period when a “social wavelength starts to feel dated,” according to the magazine’s Allison P. Davis.
The city’s vibe shift has been unfolding over the last year, as officials placed cultural defibrillators on the heart of downtown, attempting to shock it back to life after the twin forces of the pandemic and the new civil rights movement roiled the Mile Square in 2020. Storefronts were boarded up. Crime increased. Open drug use, and occasionally feces, dotted downtown streetscapes. The economic currents laid waste to treasured restaurants like Ed Rudisell’s Black Market on Mass Ave and Rook in Fletcher Place. A downtown that had been on the rise for decades was suddenly in huge trouble.
Now, with the worst of the pandemic in the rearview mirror, the city’s core may be transforming again. Civic leaders spent years preparing downtown to be the kind of place that could host a Super Bowl. Now they want to do something very different: make it a desirable place to live.
“We’ve traditionally thought of our downtown as a place where people work, so we thought about the population of downtown as workers,” says Scarlett Andrews, director of the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development. “Then we thought about how to make it a place that people wanted to visit. Now workers want something different. Visitors to some degree want different experiences. But we have a lot of people living downtown, and we need even more.”
Consider this: The occupancy rate of downtown apartments is 97 percent. That suggests an opportunity for more housing. It may also call for new kinds of development.
“We need to change how we think about our public spaces and infrastructure,” Andrews says. “We need a more people-centered approach to what residents, visitors, and workers want.”
What, exactly, does that mean? Back to the vibe shift: In the coming five years, a historic slate of projects will take shape downtown. For the most part, these won’t be the office towers and malls that characterized development here in the late-20th and early-21st centuries. A new kind of neighborhood-based construction, represented by campuses like Bottleworks, Elevator Hill, the Stutz complex, and 16 Tech, seems to be in vogue. Then there’s the city’s partnership with the cultural development firm GANGGANG to create the South Downtown Connectivity Vision Plan, which could reshape everything from the kinds of trees you see planted to the variety of benches you sit on.
Last year, nearly a decade after Super Bowl XLVI, the city finally took down its city-limit signs touting our experience as the host city. It was time for something new. Indianapolis is ready to find what’s next, as the sign at the museum urged.
I told Jeff Bennett, Indy’s deputy mayor of community development, about my walk, and asked him what he made of the new Indianapolis that will spring up alongside that path in the next few years.
“You can stand and point at historic resources that have already become revitalized campuses like Bottleworks,” Bennett says. “Then you can point at sites like the stamping plant that will be changed over the next few years. No city is fixed in time. They’re always changing. You’re either moving forward, or you’re moving backward, but you’re never standing still. And I think that corridor you walked represents that—the city is moving forward.” —Adam Wren
Six years ago, a diverse group of elected officials, government experts, and community stakeholders convened with the goal of reforming the Marion County criminal justice system. That innovative team sought to address underlying challenges generations in the making, which had resulted in an overburdened, antiquated, and unequal system of justice for residents.
After months of listening and learning, the Criminal Justice Reform Task Force released a series of recommendations to fundamentally change the existing system. They included a shift to prioritize assessment and treatment over incarceration, especially for those who struggle with mental health or substance abuse disorders. There was also a clear need to address aging, inefficient facilities that served as barriers to collaboration and successful re-entry — specifically our county jail system.
Soon after, we found partners in the Twin Aire neighborhood and the surrounding communities, who jumped at the chance to replace a 15-year-old brownfield resting on $24 million of environmental remediation efforts. And as we broke ground on the site, we combined our reform-minded approach with an intention to uplift one of our city’s most historic areas.
On May 16, after two years of a pandemic and a national reckoning on race that only further exposed the inequities of a broken system of criminal justice, we cut the ribbon on the Community Justice Campus.
The event represented a significant step forward in implementing the original recommendations for reform. The campus brings a modern, holistic, and data-driven approach to criminal justice in our city. Critically, it unites partners on a single site, making it easier for those who interact with the justice system to navigate it.
The campus houses the Marion County courts, sheriff’s office, Adult Detention Center and our flagship Assessment and Intervention Center, or AIC. The AIC, which was the first facility to open on the campus in December 2020, provides mental health and addiction assessments as an intervention point before someone is arrested. The goal is to help keep non-violent, low-level offenders out of jail by providing them with the resources and support they need to address underlying mental health or substance use issues.
In its first year of operation, the AIC received 2,419 referrals and conducted 1,707 assessments of individuals for mental and behavioral health and substance abuse issues. Instead of being thrown in jail, these individuals are now getting access to resources and services, including short-term stays at the AIC to address withdrawal management and connection to direct service providers such as recovery housing and community mental health treatment.
Not only is the AIC making a significant difference, but the Adult Detention Center itself is restructured with a focus on improved physical and mental health services for inmates. The facility features Medication Assisted Treatment capabilities, Narcan vending machines, and suicide prevention advocates. It also includes enhanced space for inmates to take part in education, job training, counseling, and other programs to assist with re-entry.
More facilities are on the way: a modern Youth and Family Services Center, to replace our aging Juvenile Detention Facility and guide young people toward positive paths; a professional building to house the Public Defender and Probation Department in close proximity to the new courthouse; and coroner and forensics facilities to more quickly find justice for families who have had loved ones taken from them too soon. And as the Community Justice Campus continues to grow, we will work with neighbors to bring responsible local development along with it.
At the outset, we knew the work of criminal justice reform would not be finished in one year, or four years, or even in the life of my administration. And our work is not yet finished. But with the opening of the Community Justice Campus, we have made a vital step toward improving outcomes for generations of Indianapolis residents to come.