“I don’t believe the goal of the redevelopment commission is to be in the real estate business,” commented Scott Harris, executive director of the Speedway Redevelopment Commission. “You know, we may do some acquisitions but then our goal would be to transition those to other parties for private development.”
Rare is the occasion when a local official will admit to a local newspaper the real goal for acquiring private property. Speedway redevelopment officials have been telling property owners in the 350-acre area south of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that their properties would be acquired for a street widening project that is part of a larger $500 million redevelopment plan. Indeed, the official plans only specify street improvements. But as Harris tells the Indianapolis Star, officials are looking to use eminent domain to kick out existing businesses to replace them with other racing-related businesses that would attract tourists.
Downtown Speedway isn’t what it used to be in its heyday in the 1950s and ‘60s. However, the businesses that have stuck with Speedway are thriving.
Susan Luebbert owns Speedway Monogramming with her husband. They have been in business making embroidered racing suits and souvenirs for 24 years. Luebbert told the Star she would like to contribute to the city’s redevelopment efforts, but so far, the city has had little interest in her plans, only her property. Although they told at first told her the business could stay, city officials said Speedway Monogramming was on the acquisition list in April 2008.