Developer Questions Redevelopment Plans

(posted Apr 3)

Steve Falender does not understand why Speedway Redevelopment Commissioner Ron Fisher made disparaging comments concerning his properties and tenant agreements with Union Jack and Hardee's.

"It is a nice scheme to play in California, bad deal in Indiana," Fisher said about Falender owning land while his tenants own and occupy the buildings. Fisher made his comments at the SRC's March 16th meeting.

Falender explained tenants can often save money by building and owning their own buildings on leased land. "Businesses like Hardee's have their own building plans and contractors, and their own source of cash or financing. They don't need me to go to the bank to get a loan that I will charge them in rent."

"These buildings have been occupied like this for 35 years, so that in itself would indicate it is a feasible and a viable way of doing business." Falender clarified that he does not own the site of the former the BW-3 building. (The Speedway Navigator mistakenly reported he did, based on SRC Executive Director Scott Harris's statements during the March 16 public hearing.)

Falender also does not understand Fisher's comments about Falender not residing in town or how his residency could improve Hardee's and Union Jack's business operations since they have their own business models. Falender resides in Colorado.

Falender is giving close attention to the SRC's actions which placed his properties on the acquisition list without presenting a plan or time line to him.

"The properties are not for sale" he stated, and requested the parcels be removed from the acquisition list if the SRC has no immediate plans to buy.

He said an acquisition list places a cloud of "uncertainty" over the properties and it could work against the SRC's goal to revitalize the town, unless they are fully funded to execute the plan. Private landowners and tenants will be reluctant to make improvements to their properties if there is always a chance of condemnation.

Falender thinks it's odd that no one from the redevelopment commission has contacted him about plans concerning future development of his sites. "I don't oppose redevelopment," and he considers redevelopment commissions an appropriate tool to assist the communities if they are well funded. He cautions that if the redevelopment commission is not fully funded to carry out its plans, it could be a detriment. He questions the SRC's "bite size" and the ability "to chew."

It seems almost inexplicable to Falender that the SRC has not contacted the property owners in the proposed redevelopment area in an effort to develop a priority list as to when and which properties to acquire, and to gain information needed to determine fair market value compensation. He also wonders if the SRC has a plan for his own properties that really improves upon the existing uses and justifies a public expenditure of funds for acquisition.

Falender has been a long time developer and took over his father's business, Falender Homes. His father built many homes surrounding and in Speedway, including the Meadowood Shopping Center. Falender Homes won the Builder of the Year award from the Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis.

Over the years, some of their properties have been involved in condemnation. He said he has always been contacted and given information on the need for the condemnation prior to receiving formal notice. Falender realizes the SRC does not have to explain its intentions, but he considered it "a common courtesy" to contact property owners.

Falender has looked at the proposed plans for Area Two. He said not all of the proposed development will be at the highest and best use compared to its current zoning. He said one proposal appears to show the Meadowood Shopping Center as residential living. He questions if it would contract the tax base by not developing a plan to continue the site as commercial use.