renew creates city’s first commercial/industrial land bank

Abandoned commercial and industrial sites have historically been a tough sell for redevelopment due to unknown environmental conditions, among other challenges. Renew Indianapolis (the City of Indianapolis’ land bank) has stepped in to address the issues involved with these sites with the hopes of raising the visibility, securing more investment and ultimately increasing job growth in target areas.

Indianapolis as a whole has experienced significant economic growth; however, industrial development opportunities have often fallen through the organizational gaps. This is especially true for sites that were anchored by large, single employers producing consumer products in the post-war era, stand-alone industrial buildings dating from the early 20th century and mid-ring locations between the core and interstate collar. 

Prior to this move into the commercial and industrial market, Renew Indianapolis primarily concentrated on working with the City of Indianapolis to convey vacant, abandoned and at-risk residential properties to partners committed to blight elimination and neighborhood revitalization. This focus on single-family and other smaller scale residential opportunities has led to recent success, as they expect to close our 200th residential sale for the year in late October 2018, already more than 60 sold in all of 2017. The award of Lilly Endowment funds to LISC in 2018 opened a larger opportunity for Renew to intervene more aggressively in the commercial and industrial sector with a new geographic and organizational focus and create the first commercial-industrial land bank for Marion County. 

Renew’s entry into the industrial market is already well underway. In early 2018 the organization began to research and compile site data and information and build a one-stop, single source for target sites, critical for matchmaking with industrial brokers. In addition, Renew recently recruited and contracted with Lily Smith to oversee the Commercial and Industrial Program on behalf of the organization. Smith is tasked with identifying and classifying all City-owned commercial and industrial sites ready for development, evaluating comps and recommending list prices for sites and developing an application, review process and operational procedures for acquiring, marketing, and disposing of commercial and industrial properties.

Renew is also working with the City of Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development and Treasurer to bring tax-delinquent industrial properties in target areas back into private ownership and active use. While public agencies hold the title, this process would bring properties to the market via a land bank sale before transferring to a new long-term business user, private developer, non-profit developer or landlord. Renew is responsible for packaging the offer, marketing, securing a buyer and closing the sale.

Lastly, Renew plans to directly intervene in the industrial market with a focus on smaller-scale parcels in target locations. Interventions will allow new investment, consolidate fragmented ownerships and clear sub-leases, all positioning the opportunity to a new way into the market. 

The City of Indianapolis has experienced many economic development successes including market-led development of new facilities and creative reuse of existing buildings in historical corridors. As Renew Indianapolis works toward creating the City’s first commercial and industrial land bank, we hope that Indianapolis can add successful marketing and sale of industrial sites to that list, and ultimately creating job growth in target areas.