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Indy city-county committee approves $55 million construction funding to start work on criminal justice center

An Indianapolis city-county council committee has unanimously approved spending $55 million to pay for work that amounts to slightly more than one-tenth of the cost of construction funding to build the city’s proposed criminal justice center, Indianapolis Business Journal reports.

The same proposal also authorizes the city to spend $4.2 million to purchase 140 acres of land from Citizens Energy Group as the site for the new jail, courthouses and mental health center.

The justice center buildings will be constructed at the former Citizens coke plant in the Twin Aire neighborhood. The full council still needs to vote on these costs, as well as future justice center spending.

The court facilities are still being designed to the specifications of judges and their staffs, city corporation counsel Andy Mallon said.

The courthouse and jail will be bid out separately to allow for more regional, local or smaller bidders to have an opportunity to get project work, he said.

The committee-approved construction funding includes $30 million to move soil that’s not amenable to build on and to create a building pad; $9 million in construction management services; and $15 million for the teams selected to build the jail and courthouse to perform initial work before the rest of the financing package goes through, the publication reported.

The funds will be paid with a short-term note backed by local option income tax dollars but eventually repaid by future bond proceeds, the published report says.

The real estate deal consists of a $2.1 million initial lease with Citizens for parcels that need environmental remediation, which would eventually be transferred to the city for nominal amounts, and a $2.1 million purchase of other parcels that are expected to be developed for community purposes later on.

“This is really the art of the possible with respect to what can get done with those properties,” Mallon said. “We have some very important public uses we’re looking at.”

The jail would replace the Arrestee Processing Center, Jail I, Jail II and Hope Hall, inside the City-County Building.

It would include about 2,700 beds and 40,000 to 50,000 sq. ft. of “inmate education, job training, counseling and other programs making sure we’re providing folks with opportunities” once they are released, Mallon said.

He said the assessment and intervention center is still being designed. This structure would be on the same campus as the jail and courthouse, but  located across a creek on the property. Mallon said health providers “wanted to create a different environment, a more therapeutic environment.”

“We’re going to leave no stone unturned,” Mallon said. “We’re going to know where the light switches are.”

Neighbourhood groups sent delegations to express their support for the project, along with several members of the “No New Jail” coalition, who spoke against it.

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