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16 May 2018

Justice Center Seen as Key to Reinvigorating Blighted Indianapolis Neighborhood

The HOK-designed complex features an 11-story, boomerang-shaped courthouse in addition to a four-story jail and two-story sheriff’s office.

Excerpted from the Indianapolis Business Journal:

Ensuring the $572 million criminal justice center connects with the surrounding Twin Aire neighborhood and doesn’t sit isolated presents a big challenge for planners of the project and community leaders.

The four-building complex—which will house the courts, jail and sheriff’s department, in addition to an assessment and intervention facility—is set to be built southeast of downtown on part of 140 acres where the Citizens Energy coke plant once stood.

City and neighborhood leaders hope the increased traffic from workers and visitors will spur private commercial and residential development on the rest of the sprawling property, providing a much-needed boost to the banged-up neighborhood.

Twin Aire is home to about 6,100 residents. The area’s median household income is just $20,320, roughly half that of Marion County overall.

“We’re ready for a change,” said 65-year-old Brenda McAtee, a longtime Twin Aire resident and chairwoman of the Twin Aire Neighborhood Coalition. “Now we’re just waiting.”

Plans for the justice center site show private commercial development between Southeastern and English avenues to the north of where the justice center would be built and across Pleasant Run Creek.

“It’s a huge catalyst for private investment,” Andy Mallon, the city’s corporation counsel, said. “That’s what that area of town has not seen.”

The justice center would be connected by building a bridge across Pleasant Run Creek and moving the primary IndyGo transit link for the neighborhood to the front of the courthouse. Linking the justice center to its surroundings presents challenges, however. The former coke plant property is bounded by railroad tracks to the east and west, and there’s no direct access to it from English Avenue.

The city hired HOK as architect for the justice center project. It has designed an 11-story courthouse that Jeff Goodale, a senior vice president, described as “timeless and not trendy.”

Despite the site’s challenges, he’s confident the justice center will become a pillar of the area.

“You’re moving a lot of city-county employees to this area, and you have a lot of consumers of all walks of life using the center,” Goodale said. “What we see with facilities like this, that kind of private development absolutely comes along with it.”

Indianapolis Business Journal