Andrew Magee goes over a series of renderings as a group of Ball State urban planning students present their project for redeveloping the ground where Guide once stood at the Anderson Library on Wednesday. Don Knight photo
ANDERSON — A group of undergraduate urban planning students at Ball State University unveiled a redevelopment proposal for the former General Motors Corp. factory site on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Wednesday that’s so comprehensive, even Donald Trump would be impressed.
The students — Andrew Magee, Bryan Schuch, Chloe’ Dotson, Jacob Egan, Justin Long and Ryan Phelps — crafted the detailed plan as part of a class assignment for professor Bruce W. Frankel of the BSU Department of Urban Planning.
Calling themselves the Anderson Development Group, the students propose transforming the 143-acre brownfield industrial site into an innovative showcase featuring a major aquaphonics facility, food distribution center, multiple research facilities, a small-scale retail center, grocery store and multi-family housing and, eventually, single family housing.
Aquaphonics combines hydrophonics, a method of growing fruits, vegetables and plants in mineral nutrient solutions without soil, and aquafarming, the practice of cultivating fish and other marine life, in one system.
Despite a total price tag of about $90 million, development would be staged in two five-year periods, which help make the project financially feasible, the students told an audience at the Anderson Public Library.
According to their detailed analysis, the project could create nearly 5,800 jobs, with annual salaries of $250 million, and generate approximately $1 million in tax revenue for the city.
The students said they chose the light industrial aquaphonics-based development model because it represents more sustainable future. Fruit and vegetables grown locally are becoming more popular among consumers.
A facility in Anderson could supply grocery stores throughout central Indiana in a cost-effective way, they said.
“Our whole project is focused on trying to reinvigorate the local economy,” said Jacob Egan. “I think it’s something the residents would appreciate if Anderson creatively looked at a mechanism to employ that many individuals.”
Right now, that site employs no one, he said, “so transforming a site that is relatively worthless to the local economy into a site that could possible employ upwards of 6,000 people should get serious consideration.”
Greg Winkler, Anderson’s interim director of economic development, said he was thoroughly impressed with the proposal.
“I really appreciate their passion and vision,” he said. “The thing that’s really interesting is that this exact parcel is sitting before the Anderson Redevelopment Commission Tuesday night for inclusion in the consolidated TIF district.”
Winker said if someone were going to pick an area that would have maximum impact for the city, the neighborhood and the community, “they got it right.”
Mayor Kevin Smith said he, too, was impressed with the proposal, calling it one of the best presentations of its kind he’s seen.
Could it be translated into a real-world development? Perhaps, Smith said. It would depend upon if there is a business or investors interested and actively looking for a location to develop such a project.