Scribner Place: “A catalyst for future development,” says Business First.

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The official groundbreaking ceremony for New Albany’s Scribner Place redevelopment project is Monday, November 6 (see article to follow).

Here is the full text of a recent article by Business First that recaps the project.

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New Albany’s Scribner Place redevelopment under way, by Sarah Jeffords (Business First of Louisville – October 27, 2006):

Scribner Place, a redevelopment project that will bring a YMCA facility and city-owned natatorium to downtown New Albany, long has been the topic of conversation in Southern Indiana circles.

Plans for the 2.2-acre project were proposed, then altered. There was ongoing debate about how to pay for the environmental cleanup of the former industrial site and the multimillion-dollar facility. And in the midst of it all, a new city administration came on board and inherited the task of making the redevelopment project a reality.

But after at least four years of discussion, preparation and some progress — such as the environmental cleanup that was completed last year — the long-awaited Scribner Place soon will start to take shape.

Work to get under way in November

Louisville-based Stevens Contractors Inc. is scheduled to begin construction of the 80,000-square-foot facility early next month, said John Rosenbarger, director of the New Albany Redevelopment Commission and the New Albany Plan Commission.

The city will own a 60 percent stake in the building, and the Floyd County YMCA will own the remaining 40 percent.

The three-story facility, designed by Jeffersonville-based The Estopinal Group, will be unlike the structures currently found in historic downtown New Albany. The new building has an eye-catching, 2,500-square-foot glass atrium that marks the main entrance on State Street.

The natatorium, named the Caesars Foundation of Floyd County Aquatic Center in honor of the private foundation’s financial contribution to the facility, will occupy the south wing of the building. It will have a family pool with multiple fountains and a two-story slide, a six-lane lap pool, and a warm-water therapy pool.

City officials are negotiating an agreement under which the Floyd County YMCA would manage the aquatic center, but that has not been finalized, Rosenbarger said.

New YMCA could have 9,000 members

The north wing, stretching toward Main Street, will be the home of the Floyd County YMCA. It will offer a climbing wall, fitness facilities, child care and other programs.

Joe LaRocca, executive director of the YMCA of Southern Indiana in Jeffersonville, will oversee the new branch.

He said the new facility provides “an opportunity to better serve all of Southern Indiana and Floyd County in particular.”

About 22 percent of the existing YMCA’s members live in Floyd County. LaRocca estimates that the majority of them live within a 15-minute drive of the Clark County branch, and they most likely will continue to use the current facility.

So the goal of Scribner Place is to provide a convenient location that would serve members in the business district as well as those who live near downtown and in Floyds Knobs.

LaRocca projected that the Floyd County YMCA will have about 9,000 members. In comparison, the Clark County YMCA has more than 11,000.

LifeSpan Resources Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps elderly and disabled people remain independent, will lease about 8,000 square feet on the third floor from the Floyd County YMCA.
Adjoining lot also to be developed

Also as part of the project, a city-owned site adjacent to the eastern side of Scribner Place will be converted into a surface parking lot that will provide 115 spaces for patrons of the facility.

Long-term plans call for further development of that lot, Rosenbarger said, adding that city officials plan to work with private developers who would build a hotel, retail space, offices, apartments or condominiums in a multi-level structure over the parking lot.

He added that New Albany has been working with Indianapolis-based consulting firm Brown Investments to identify appropriate uses for the site, but that portion of the project has been on hold until Scribner Place materializes.

In the past, private developers have been hesitant to make a commitment to the site because of the uncertainty of Scribner Place, said Paul Wheatley, New Albany’s economic development director.

But with those plans moving forward, he added, interest has begun to increase.

Scribner is just one piece of the puzzle

City officials expect the excitement surrounding Scribner Place to continue to build momentum in the downtown sector and serve as a catalyst for future development.

Rosenbarger said he sees Scribner Place as a destination site that will draw additional traffic downtown. Some estimates project as many as 500 additional cars will pass through the State and Main intersection per day.

Scribner Place is a “major-league, highly visible construction project,” Rosenbarger said. “It’s not an end-all type of endeavor, but it’s a very important new anchor in the downtown.”

Path to the present

2002: New Albany officials began to develop the Scribner Place concept, assessed the current use of the site, and designated it a blighted area.

2003: The city made offers to various landowners in an effort to assemble the 2.2 acres.

2004: Land purchases were completed.

2005: The city conducted nearly $800,000 of site assessment, remediation planning and environmental cleanup of the site. (The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to feature Scribner Place at the Brownfields 2006 conference in Boston next month.)

2006: The city and the Floyd County YMCA sold bonds to complete the financing package.

Construction is set to begin Nov. 6.

The Financials

Project: Scribner Place
Total project cost: About $23 million
How that breaks down:
The Caesars Foundation of Floyd County gave New Albany a $20 million grant — $1 million per year for 20 years — and the city already is in its fourth year of that grant.

The city had an initial $2.4 million bond issue that gave New Albany funds for land acquisition and environmental cleanup. Those dollars will be paid back with Caesars funds. Plus, the city received some grant money from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, $292,000 of which has gone toward site remediation.

The city sold $12.75 million in bonds to finance construction costs. That amount will be repaid during the next 16 years using the Caesars funds and an additional contribution from the city and county funds. The city will pay up to $137,500 per year, and the county will pay up to $137,000 per year.

The Floyd County YMCA also sold $4.1 million in municipal bonds to finance its portion of the construction costs. The YMCA, in conjunction with tenant LifeSpan Resources, also is in the midst of an $8 million capital campaign. It has raised $5.5 million so far.

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