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City of Indianapolis looks to buy Eleven Park site from Keystone Group

The city says as many as 650 remains are still located on one acre of the site, which could cost $12 million to remove.
eleven park construction
Posted at 5:16 PM, May 22, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — The city of Indianapolis says it wants to buy the Eleven Park site from the Keystone Group due to human remains left behind in the former Greenlawn Cemetery.

Indianapolis-based Keystone Group is working with Indy Eleven to develop the former Diamond Chain manufacturing site on West Street and Kentucky Avenue into a 20,000-seat stadium, hotel, office, apartments, retail and public spaces.

However, the site was once the location of several cemeteries, and the city says hundreds of remains are on those grounds, some of which have been found in recent months during the construction process.

PREVIOUS REPORT | Fragments of human remains found at Eleven Park construction site (wrtv.com)

Now, in a letter to the Keystone Group, the city says it believes as many as 650 remains are still located on one acre of the site, which could cost $12 million to remove.

In 2023, the city gave the group $2 million under a pre-development agreement. The city now wants to buy the remaining portion of the site at “fair market value.”

READ MORE | Keystone Group accuses Mayor of walking away from Eleven Park project (wrtv.com)

In the letter, the city says they want to right the wrongs committed more than a century ago and respect the history of the site.

On Thursday, Mayor Joe Hogsett addressed the letter to Keystone Group saying they city doesn't have alternate plans for the site yet, but thinks it'd be best used as a park.

"I think a memorial and a park, with green space to be added on the other side of the river across from the amphitheater. I think there are a lot of other opportunities for us to take advantage of and we’re simply trying to resolve this matter in as equitable and as fairly possible," Hogsett said.

The Keystone Group issued the following statement to WRTV:

For weeks, Keystone and Indy Eleven have requested to sit down with Mayor Hogsett’s negotiation team, and the response has always been the same: rather than discuss facts and negotiate in good faith, city officials would rather spread misinformation through press releases and play games with your tax dollars.

For more than fifty years, Indianapolis has achieved great success because it benefited from leadership that saw value in bringing the business and civic community together around bold ideas and big projects. Unfortunately, this current administration’s embrace of divisive politics and bare-knuckle intimidation with the City-County Council that have no place in our city.

We intend to correct the record as it relates to our ongoing efforts to work with the community to offer peaceful reinternment for those buried in a site that for over a century has been disregarded and disrespected. Rather than respond to Mr. Parker’s last-ditch effort to salvage the bungled rollout of a half-baked idea, it is our hope Mayor Hogsett will once again retake the reins of his own administration and join us in a thoughtful, adult discussion on the future of soccer and downtown development in our state’s capital city.

Keystone Group says phase one of construction was completed and the team of experts discovered 87 burials across six acres.

“Monitoring of demolition at the site was carried out with due diligence and a focus on respect and privacy for any findings,” Linda Weintraut, Ph.D., Owner of Weintraut and Associates, said. “As planned, Keystone and its experts are updating the community. Excavation has concluded and we are engaged with the final analysis using scientific archaeological methodologies.”

The remains will now be moved to Mount Jackson Cemetery in Wayne Township. It is maintained by the Wayne Township Trustee's Office.

“We are honored to be considered as a final resting place for these ancestors,” Jeff Harris, Director of Communications for Wayne Township, said. “Mount Jackson is a historically appropriate cemetery for these reinterments."

The initial plan between Keystone and Wayne Township Trustees includes:

  • Remains moved from Greenlawn to be 'nested' in Mount Jackson, in a separate section with signage, landscape and a formal memorial noting the history of Greenlawn and those buried there.
  • Kesytone will make a significant investment in Mount Jackson Cemetery, which will allow for improvements to its grounds, the restoration of headstones, new signage, public art and to address safety concerns.
  • Funds from the purchase of plots at Mount Jackson will go toward creating a perpetual fund to help the Wayne Township Trustee's Office continue to maintain the property into the future.

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