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Developer of former GM stamping plant says city breached contract

Posted at 7:14 PM, Oct 10, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — A week after city leaders announced a plan to use eminent domain to take control of the former General Motors stamping plant site, the site's developer called the move "unlawful" and said it could result in a court battle.

Ambrose Property Group founder and CEO Aasif Bade said Thursday in a written statement the city is trying "to use eminent domain to interrupt an otherwise competitive market sale process with numerous possible buyers in an effort to ensure that the City is the only bidder."

Bade said he believes a common ground solution can be found that does not include a court fight, but the company is prepared for one considering it believes the move would represent a breach of contract by the city.

"First, by threatening the use of eminent domain, the City has breached the parties’ contract which clearly states that the City has no authority to take Waterside," Bade said in the statement. "In addition, eminent domain proceedings should only be used to address serious problems such as public nuisances and blighted houses — not a highly valuable property that has had millions invested in it."

Ambrose backed out of a plan to redevelop the site in late September. The initial plans called for apartments, restaurants and retail on the 103-acre site.

“If Ambrose would prefer to avoid the delay and expense of a court process, we would welcome the opportunity to begin negotiating acquisition of the property immediately,” the city said in a letter last week.

The company previously said it plans to sell the land and has already partially done so. Ambrose donated 10 acres and sold an additional 16.5 acres of land to the Indianapolis Zoo.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Joe Hogsett said the city does not plan to stop the zoo's expansion plans.

Ambrose completed its purchase of the land from the RACER Trust in 2014. The RACER Trust, or Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response, was created to clean up and revitalize properties owned and closed by General Motors.

General Motors closed the plant in 2011.