My wife and I own a unit at the Athletic Club, within the proposed Economic Improvement District (EID) area. Our permanent residence is Columbus, Indiana. Our children and grandchildren all live in Indianapolis. We pay Marion County property taxes and enjoy the time we are able to spend there. Having recently paid a fairly significant assessment to correct structural and facade problems at the Athletic Club, I am not crazy about the prospect of paying additional fees for improvements to the downtown. I realize, however that the long-term benefits that result from the repairs at the Athletic Club will protect the value of our investment. I also know that not making investments in protecting the character of a vibrant downtown will drive the value of our investment down.

From 2005-2012, I served as the chairman of the Columbus Redevelopment Commission. Our focus was on addressing the market issues that made the downtown a less attractive place to live, work and do business. Over that time we achieved $150 million of investment in downtown improvements. For every $1 of public funds, we realized $3 of private sector investment. We were able to make the downtown a destination and place that private investment sought out. Throughout, we were faced by a vocal segment that misinformed and criticized every step of the way. My only regret is that we did not respond quickly enough to the misinformation that they spread. The Indiana Apartment Association appears to be the same sort of critic.

The character and appearance of the Mile Square should be a concern of everyone in Indianapolis, especially those who live, work, rent, own or lease property in that area.

I believe the proposed EID when implemented will also define the heart of Indianapolis, a place anyone would be proud to call home.

People want to live and spend time in areas that are clean and safe, where they can enjoy an urban landscape that is vibrant and stimulating. They choose to frequent businesses in neighborhoods that are convenient, accessible and diverse. To create these types of neighborhoods requires ongoing attention and commitment. And, yes money.

It would be nice if someone else would shoulder this responsibility. But government resources are stretched thin in cities across Indiana and focus on basic services like police and fire protection. There is little room in city budgets for those things that make a city or neighborhood desirable and livable. The IAA would have you believe that someone else should be taking care of things like picking up the cigarette butts, trash and debris that can quickly define an area. Someone else should be responsible for cleaning up the urine and vomit stains that have become more present.

The additional cost for addressing these problems will not be paid by the IAA. They will pass it along as rent increases that prospective tenants will weigh when they choose to live downtown. They will argue that passing this cost along will cause the downtown area to a become less desirable and less competitive. It won’t. They and their tenants will benefit as will all those with an investment in Downtown Indy. The investments made as a result of the EID will directly impact the quality of life within the Mile Square and spur additional private investment in places to live, eat, work and play.

A former Mayor of Columbus said “downtown is everyone’s neighborhood”.  We believed that in Columbus and set to work to redefine our downtown.  I believe the proposed EID when implemented will also define the heart of Indianapolis, a place anyone would be proud to call home.

-Written by Tom Vujovich, Downtown Residential Property Owner