Troubled Irvington shopping plaza could get tax money help

Posted at 9:02 PM, Oct 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-04 21:50:08-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- An east side eyesore could soon be getting some help following a Call 6 Investigation into the shopping center’s condition.

Irvington Plaza has been plagued with trash, homeless people, and empty storefronts.

State lawmaker Rep. Dan Forestal (D-Indianapolis) is concerned about the condition of Irvington Plaza, especially since Marsh left earlier this year.

“This eyesore acts as a barrier to economic development moving east,” said Forestal.  “We’ve seen stagnant growth from this spot eastward, and the plaza is really a hindrance.”

PREVIOUSCALL 6: Irvington residents concerned about shopping plaza's condition, future

Forestal is working with the mayor’s office and the Department of Metropolitan Development to create a special taxing district that would generate tax revenue to attract developers.

“The hope is that money could be used as a pool to help somebody who is going to take the area over, do needed renovations and repairs,” said Forestal. “The city is working on other tools, special financing options and things that will help get this thing off the ground."

Forestal emphasized that nearby homeowners and businesses will not see a tax increase to support the redevelopment of Irvington Plaza.

“No, not at all,” said Forestal. “All this does is capture the taxes that are naturally generated and keep it in the area, rather than it going to the general fund.”

The Department of Metropolitan Development is currently researching how much the property is worth, and whether a TIF (Tax Increment Finance) district would work.

“We’re doing our due diligence, as we do with all TIF requests, to see if a TIF is a viable economic development option for this site,” said DMD spokesperson Lindsey Richardt.

Dave Atherton, owner and manager of the Dairy Queen in Irvington Plaza, is thrilled to hear state and city leaders are taking note.

“It’s fantastic and we’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said Atherton. “We need help.”

Atherton has become frustrated at the amount of trash, homeless and vacancies, however he said business is actually up from last year.

“We have a lot of loyal customers, but I would love to be up front on Washington Street and face Washington Street,” said Atherton. “I think business would boom if we were up there.”

State and city leaders want to sweeten the deal to make it appealing for the property owner to sell the shopping center to a developer.

“It’s a kick start to the engine if you will,” said Forestal.

Irvington Plaza’s landlord, a Florida man named Eric Becker, said he is open to selling at the right price.

“It’s going to take a special developer, but if they can find one that would be great,” said Becker. “A legitimate offer I would definitely consider for sure.”

Becker said his Indianapolis based broker has contacted every single supermarket in the hopes of filling the vacant Marsh space.

“There’s no interest and I offered some very favorable opportunities,” said Becker. “If the city and state can put something together that would be good. We will see if they can do better than I can.”

Becker said he’s taken steps to remove the homeless and cut down on illegal dumping by hiring security for Irvington Plaza and also improving the lighting in the parking lot.

“I’m not just an absentee person who just doesn’t care,” said Becker.

Call 6 Investigates has stopped by Irvington Plaza several times over the past two months, and Wednesday marked the first time we did not see any homeless people at the shopping center.

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