INDIANAPOLIS — On Wednesday, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Development Commission could decide to green light a $150 million project that would drastically change the area of 96th and Meridian.
The project, announced in Fall 2021, would bring new retail, hotel, apartments and office space to the area known as Meridian North. While Landmark Properties, the company behind the project, says it will revitalize the area, those who live and work there aren't convinced.
Jim Thompson has owned businesses in the strip mall since 1990. He started out with Daddy Jack's. From 1990 to 1997, he opened Kona Jack’s Restaurant, Fish Market and Sushi Bar along with Après Jack’s. Thompson says his customers and employees are like family to him.
"I've got several people who've been here for 30 years. 15 [people] that have been here for 20 years. About 30 that have been here 10 years," Thompson said. "Many customers will come and say I got engaged at this table or this table. They want to have dinner at the same table. I see them and many others all the time."
More than three decades of work, however, is now up in the air. If the new project is approved, it would mean tearing down the building that houses Daddy Jack's and Thompson's other restaurants.
"It kind of hit me like a ton of bricks when I found out that was even on the radar," Thompson said.
Last month at a Nora-Northside Community Council meeting, Landmark Properties presented their final plans for the new retail, hotel and apartment buildings. No one in the crowd supported their plans. Many of those who showed up were worried about all the businesses that will close and the extra traffic it'll bring to their neighborhood. Landmark Properties President Brian Pahud said they had already compromised with those upset about the project
"We originally proposed eight stories of apartments with two stories of commercial on Meridian. We tweaked that to seven and three and found a way to make it work," Pahud said.
"At the end of the day, it's his strip center, but obviously I've put a lot of time, thought, blood, sweat, tears in building this place, all these places. I can't really duplicate them anywhere, or replicate them. It'll be very sad if I ever have to tear this down or if they have to tear it down," Thompson said.
Thompson says if the project is approved, he expects to have around five years to figure out what's next for him, his employees and the future of Daddy Jack's.
Landmark Properties did not respond to our questions for this story.
The Metropolitan Development Commission will take up the matter Wednesday at 1 P.M. You can watch the meeting by clicking here. If approved, the plans will go to the City-County Council for a final vote next month.