City Eyes Plant Site For Riverfront Development

Experts Weigh In On Future Of Indy Stamping Plant

The site of the soon-to-be-vacant General Motors Stamping Plant near downtown could become home to a neighborhood of the future, complete with housing, retail and a school, but some local residents said they just want jobs.

A commission of urban planning professionals, chaired by former Indianapolis Mayor William H. Hudnut III, studied the 115-acre site to brainstorm possibilities for redevelopment, 6News' Julie Pursley reported.

With the plant set to close next week, and no immediate plans to bring in another manufacturing or production business, commission members said they believe creating a riverside neighborhood is a viable option to draw revenue and revitalize the area.

Their plan calls for mixed-income housing, shops, a K-12 school and a senior living facility, all framed by a large park along the White River, which would be connected to downtown by a pedestrian bridge.

"Waterfronts offer that magic. Everywhere in America that has water sees an opportunity for magic. You haven't gotten there really yet," said commission member Thomas Murphy.

The recommendation also includes keeping historic aspects of the factory intact as part of a monument park, marking how the automobile industry changed the face of Indianapolis.

"It's a big undertaking. It does involve risks. It involves being willing to spend money in order to generate new revenues," Hudnut said.

The commission did not specify how much of an investment they believe the plan would need, but said the community itself would likely take 10 to 15 years to complete.

Mayor Greg Ballard said he supports the plan, but stressed that he hasn't abandoned efforts to bring new business to the site.

"I haven't given up hope, put in the current market, it may be difficult in the short-term," he said.

Nearby resident Jim Morgan heard the commission's pitch Friday but said he believes jobs need to be a bigger priority.

"We don't need more monuments. Don't put a guy out of job that feeds his family so you have another monument," he said.

Billie Figueroa said people in the area could use good jobs.

"Put in something that would give us a job, employment. I could walk to it," she said. "I have a vehicle that is barely running that I drive to Plainfield to a temporary service. People here need income."

Still, other neighbors said they doubt the city would get their input before making a decision on the site.

"We've been left in the dark. The neighborhood really needs to get into this," said Mark Shirels.

"It doesn't make a difference what I say. They are going to put up what they want," said Shelby Rybolt, who has lived near the plant for 30 years. "A few of the things sound good, but I don't think its gonna work out."

The city's development arm, DevelopIndy, paid $120,000 for the study.