The Indianapolis Airport Authority has approved an agreement to sell 1,866 acres of property—most of it federally-protected conservation land—to the town of Plainfield for $1.59 million.
The property, which includes the 210-acre Sodalis Nature Park, is located between Interstate 70 and Indiana 67 and sits southwest of Indianapolis International Airport. It includes 1,724 acres of conservation land on which development is restricted; and another 142 acres of non-restricted land.
Most of the property is within Plainfield’s existing town limits and the town plans to annex the remaining portion.
Plainfield will pay $451 per acre for the restricted acreage, and $5,720 per acre for the non-restricted portion. Closing will occur following a 120-day inspection/due diligence period.
Plainfield Town Council President Robin Brandgard said the purchase will allow his town more of a say in the fate of the 142 acres, which have already attracted interest from industrial developers.
“If we don’t own it, we can’t control how it’s developed,” Brandgard said.
But, because of the way the property is configured, it could be a while before that development happens.
The protected part of the property was set aside as a wetlands mitigation area and Indiana Brown Bat habitat in the 1990s to offset the environmental impact of several airport expansion projects. The airport authority has owned and managed the property since then, under regulations set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The land-use restrictions are included as deed covenants, meaning that Plainfield will have to abide by them when it becomes the owner.
As things now stand, Brandgard said, the acreage available for development occupies numerous separate parcels throughout the 1,866-acre site. Plainfield will work with federal officials on what Brandgard described as a “land swap” that would assign non-restricted status to a single parcel upon which developers could build.
It’s too soon to say when that land swap might be complete, Brandgard said.
The Plainfield land sale is part of the airport’s larger effort to sell or develop land that it no longer needs for aviation purposes.
When the airport launched this effort in January of 2015, it had 3,200 acres to sell or repurpose.
To date, 2,407 acres of that land—valued at $17.66 million total–has either been sold or is in the process of being sold, said Eric Anderson, the airport’s property director.
Much of the acreage yet to be sold is in one of three key areas: a 128-acre tract that served as the parking area for the airport’s former passenger terminal; a 62-acre site at the southeast corner of Ronald Reagan Parkway and Stafford Road; and several parcels along Washington Street.