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Ask The Mayor: Terre Haute's Bennett On ICON RiverFront Lofts

The mayor's State of the City Address, plant tax abatement, tolling interstates, Rea Park Golf Course Clubhouse and Vigo County Jail update.

On this week's installment of Ask The Mayor, Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett addresses these issues and more. Listen to the full conversation with Indiana Newsdesk anchor Joe Hren by clicking on the play button above, or read some of the questions and answers below. A portion of this segment airs 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. Wednesday on WFIU.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Hren: You just broke ground for redevelopment of the former ICON building here in Terre Haute. 165 loft style market rate apartments to be called RiverFront lofts. This is a big deal on many different levels, right?

Bennett: It's really a big dinosaur sitting along the river. Over the last couple of years, some really neat things happened. With the help of the state of Indiana and the dinosaur credits, to be able to take an old factory and turn it into something. A TIF district was put together to create a financial environment for Core Redevelopment to fund this project.

It's an exciting project for downtown Terre Haute, for the riverfront - it's our first housing project right on the river, for Indiana State since it's right next to their new track and on the western edge of campus.

Hren: Your State of the City Address is Wednesday at the Vigo County Library, do you have a quick preview of some talking points?

Bennett: I had to delay it week, I was very sick. There're so many great things going on in this community and a lot of the times the negative things rise to the surface. I want to share how we wrapped up last year and what people should look forward to the rest of this year. We'll talk about the budget and how 2017 will pan out which will be positive again, making progress.

Hren: I did notice you have a couple new plants looking to move or expand into Terre Haute as some tax abatements were discussed last week, but they are still paying taxes, correct?

Bennett: People say why would you give a business a tax abatement? Well, you do it because you want them to make their investment here. If they have multiple locations, why Terre Haute? Well, they look for incentives. The key is, they're still paying taxes. So they can either not do it here and leave what they have and continue paying what their paying or they make this big investment and pay about half the taxes they would normally pay over a ten year period. And it's good for everybody. It usually leads to an increase in jobs, creating work for construction companies.

Hren: I see where some new renderings of the proposed Vigo County Jail came out a week or so ago, what did you think?

Bennett: The renderings look good I think. I think people have this jail vision in their mind like our old jail over here and it just doesn't look like that anymore. That's not the nature of the beast. They try to make it more of an office type building. So I think that helps from a visual perspective. There's still debate about the location along the river, but everybody is weighing in on it. I think the sooner we get going on this the better.

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