Thursday, October 23, 2008

Indiana National Guard to Build Lawrence Armory

I had the good fortune to meet with Adjutant General Martin Umbarger at the Indiana National Guard headquarters today. My purpose for meeting with him was to discuss their plans to build a new Armory out here at Ft. Benjamin Harrison and to see how this new development will benefit Lawrence.

I think there's no question that the new Lawrence Armory will be a huge benefit to Lawrence Village at the Fort as well.

The design of the new Armory is 95% complete. General Umbarger tells me that the construction bids open in January 2009 with the contract awarded by the end of February '09. They expect to break ground in April '09. It is their intention to do a Facility Dedication by May 2010.

The Lawrence Armory will be a headquarters for 4 units of the 76th Infantry Brigade (currently serving in Iraq.) The facility will house 61 full time soldiers and 397 part time traditional soldiers also called citizen soldiers. The Armory will cost up to $25 million and will be 110,000 square feet. It will be located on the north side 59th Street just within the boundary of Ft. Benjamin Harrison and directly to the east of the new PX & Commissary.

About 60% of the Armory soldiers will come from Indianapolis and nearby donut counties with 40% coming from across the state. Weekend drills will bring additional "strength" to Lawrence. All soldiers will be higher in rank since this is the headquarters for their units.

The Indiana National Guard is the State of Indiana's militia, authorized by the Governor in a time of crisis. The Guard supports the local government's public safety personnel, not leads them. It will be a huge benefit to Lawrence to have this Armory here in the event of necessary mobilization. Further, this Armory brings significant economic benefit as a result of increased expenditures of food, fuel, and other supplies.

And, did I mention that the Lawrence Armory will be yet another entity out here that will benefit from additional restaurants, retail, and whatever else the Village brings? (I think I just did.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Odds and Ends

Know anyone who would like to rent affordable office space in beautiful Fort Benjamin Harrison? The Reuse Authority has 700 square feet of space available on the second floor of Building 28 at 9120 Otis Avenue. Call Doris at 317-377-3400 if interested.

We've had to install a video surveillance system to monitor the gravel area on Wheeler Road. The gravel is the demolished PX & Commissary and is intended to be used for the new roads we plan to install in 2009. Apparently, some folks have been helping themselves to this gravel without asking.

The Reuse Authority is in a holding pattern regarding a Letter of Intent received from a local retail developer for prime real estate within the boundaries of the Village. More on this to follow...

The City of Lawrence and the Reuse Authority had a second meeting for skater dudes to see the design of the future Lawrence Skate Park. While the kids really liked the design, they had very good suggestions for making it even better. Schneider Corporation is proceeding with bidding this project out and if weather holds out, we hope to see it completed yet this year.

Mayor Ricketts and the Reuse Authority have reopened discussions with the Marion County Libary in the hope that we can work together to bring a library to the Village. Everyone is interested and are trying to determine the best way to be successful in this effort given the current state of the economy.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

There's a new sign in town.

Sitting at the corner of Lee Rd. and 59th Street at the Fort is a sign that says: Land For Sale, Master Plan Community -- Mixed Use, Contact the FHRA at 317-377-3400. It's a cool looking sign and pretty much says it all . . . We've got land to sell around here.

We've already had some callers, some of whom are questioning what we're doing, so I thought I'd share. A master plan for Lawrence Village at the Fort was created and approved by the FHRA, the City of Indianapolis, and the City of Indianapolis in 2006. The outcome of that is what's called a PUD or Planned Urban Development. This is a legal document that spells out what we can and can't do in the Village. The nice thing about this document is that we can be assured that all buildings will be around a common theme, landscaping will be awesome, and streets will incorporate bike lanes, wide sidewalks, and trees.

The even nicer thing about this plan is that it is a result of feedback from the community. It's basically what YOU want here at the Fort.

Lawrence Village at the Fort is intended to be a dense, walkable village atmosphere where people live, work, and play. Embedded within this 95 acre property, which is bordered by 59th St., Lee Rd., 56th St., and Otis, we'll have "pocket parks," which are small places to sit and read, throw a frisbee, or listen to a concert. We'd also like to incorporate public art, which is what the Village Art Committee is working on. (The committee meets again today at 4:00, by the way.)

The FHRA will have construction documents ready for bid by the end of this year, and we hope to break ground on the first phase of infrastructure in March of 2009. This phase will bring a new Wheeler Road, Otis Road, Merrit Rd. and Hawkins Rd.; one retention pond and one detention pond, buried utilities, tree-lined streets, and 6 foot sidewalks. Along with this development, we're working hard to attract businesses, residential, and retail. Which brings me to that Land for Sale sign.

We own approximately 50 acres of property that is for sale to developers and investors interested in making Lawrence Village at the Fort happen . . . soon. We're already talking to several people and receiving a lot of interest. (In fact, we're talking to one developer and have received a letter of intent to buy a parcel.)

The community got the ball rolling with their interest and feedback in creating a new town center. The FHRA is taking it from here toward the end goal of developing a great place for the community, businesses, and visitors to live, work, and play.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Skate Park & Stuff

We are having a meeting for all "skater dudes" and others interested in seeing the preliminary design of the new Lawrence Skate Park. This meeting is on Saturday, October 4 at 10:00 a.m. at the Lawrence Government Center (southeast corner of 59th St. and Post Rd.) The City and the FHRA hope the Skate Park is done by year end, but a lot depends on the temperature as it relates to pouring concrete.

The City of Lawrence DPW has approved the FHRA drainage plan for the future Lawrence Village at the Fort. Now, we're good to go with creating construction documents for the first phase of infrastructure which will involve a new Wheeler Rd., Otis Ave., and Hawkins Rd. We'll do sideswalks, landscaping and all underground utilities as part of this work, which is scheduled to begin in March 2009. This project should go out to bid following permitting by the end of the year or around the first of January 2009.

We've been meeting with several developers and people interested in learning more about Lawrence Village at the Fort and getting a lot of interest. At the time of this writing, we have at least 3 developers who are interested in buying some of the 50 acres we have yet to sell within the boundaries of the Village. Stay tuned for more news and information . . .