Candidates focus on development


Commentary by Larry Lannan

Now that we know the candidates’ names in the first Fishers city election, it is becoming clear that economic development will be one of the major issues. Everyone says he is in favor of economic development. The controversy arises when we talk about how it should be done.

The Fishers town council and the town staff have been proactive in their efforts to spur development in downtown Fishers. Some of the results are visible now and others will be evident fairly soon.

The Depot at Nickel Plate construction site next to the post office is the most obvious sign. Once complete, it will be a mixed-use building featuring apartments with retail and restaurant space, along with a parking garage. Meyer Najem will be moving into a new structure soon to be under construction across the railroad tracks from the library on Lantern Road. The old Kentucky Fried Chicken location on 116th Street near Maple Street downtown is slated to be a mixed-use building featuring office and retail space with a parking garage.

All these projects feature tax increment financing and a donation of land from the town. Explaining TIF in a few words is not easy, but in general, bonds issued for the building construction are paid off with the property tax revenue generated by the project.

Some have been critical of using TIF financing and government land contributions to foster development in downtown Fishers. Those supporting this strategy say that in today’s world, municipalities must be creative to develop economically, especially when encouraging a busy, livable downtown destination.

The town has also purchased private property between the shopping center at Lantern Road and 116th Street and the Fishers town hall complex to allow construction of a new road connecting Lantern Road and the town hall.

Here are some questions voters will need to ponder when considering candidates they plan to support in the upcoming city election.

Should the new City of Fishers actively encourage development of a downtown area with a specific type of development in mind? Is it wise policy to develop the downtown if other parts of the city need development attention? To what extent should TIF financing, tax abatements and public land donations be used to promote commercial development?

These are just a few of the questions to hash out before the primary election on May 6. Now is the time to consider how you want Fishers developed and where the candidates stand.


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