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ISA Hosts ‘Owner Power Series’ to Discuss Upcoming Project Opportunities

by: Jack Quigley
The Indiana Subcontractors Associations (ISA) hosted an “Owner Power Series” webinar at the end of 2020 to give members an outlook on upcoming job opportunities associated with some of most anticipated projects in Indiana.

Two pre-recorded conversations with representatives from IU Health and from Citizens Energy presented ISA members with valuable information about how they can take part in a couple of the state’s most anticipated developments: IU Health’s $1.6 billion new hospital and campus consolidation project, and Citizens Energy’s $2 billion DigIndy program.

A subsequent panel discussion allowed owners’ representatives from several high-budget projects to answer frequently asked questions from ISA members. Among other topics, panelists provided updated project timelines, identified upcoming subcontractor opportunities, and addressed the pandemic’s effect on tax income for the City of Indianapolis.

Project Updates
Mike Miller, Manager of DigIndy Capital Program for Citizens Energy Group, kicked off the webinar with a pre-recorded rundown of Citizens’ 28-mile-long Tunnel System project.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, construction of the $2 billion DigIndy system has continued, as have all of Citizens’ operations,” Miller said. “In 2021, we are budgeting to spend around $300 million to operate, maintain, and improve these vital systems.”

Miller said the cooperation and support of Citizens’ many partners is crucial to ensuring these projects move forward safely and on time.

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Following Miller’s update was another pre-recorded conversation between IU Health Vice President of Design and Construction Jim Mladucky and IU Health Executive Director of Design and Construction Cary Cantwell. Cantwell and Mladucky gave ISA members an overview of IU Health’s upcoming consolidation project and discussed ways in which contractors and subcontractors can involve themselves with the project’s numerous elements.

“We’re going to need almost everybody in the Indiana marketplace to participate in this project,” Cantwell said. “So, our task is to figure out the best place for each of you so that you can be successful in the long term and we can get the value of your participation.”

Cantwell said Engaging Solutions will begin reaching out to ISA members soon to determine each companies’ capacity to fill project roles. He said a project of this scale and complexity requires honesty from subcontractors, both with themselves and with IU Health, regarding how much of the project their business can handle.

“You can grow, but you can’t grow exponentially,” Cantwell said. “We don’t want IU health to be your primary client; we want you to have other customers because our work will come and go.”

IU Health is committed to at least 50 percent local participation and 25 percent XBE inclusion for this project.

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Mladucky said, “IU Health wants to leave a legacy of diverse and sustainable businesses that remain strong long after the project concludes in 2027.”

Cantwell went on to lay out the expected timeline for the six-year-long project. A mixed-use development at 16th Street and Capitol Avenue has already been designed and IU health will select builders for that project in Q1 of 2021. Design selection for the next major building in the development – a service center that includes a parking garage and some retail space – will be in Q1 of 2021 and contractor selection for that building will come in Q2 of 2021.

As the service center is developed, work will begin on the nearby Century Utility Plant. Like the service center, design selection for this facility will be in Q1 of 2021 and builder selection will come in Q2 of 2021.

Cantwell said the IU School of Medicine will design and build their own two buildings on campus and will select designers and contractors for those projects themselves. In addition to those elements, Cantwell said 44 acres of hardscape and landscape along with site utilities will need to be accomplished, as well as some smaller demolition and renovation projects. The entire campus is planned to be open for patient care in late 2026.

Panel Discussion
ISA’s panel discussion included Andy Mallon, Executive Director at Capital Improvement Board (CIB); Jim Stewart, Assistant Vice President of Capital Planning and Facilities at Indiana University; Camille Blunt, Director at Office of Minority and Women Business Development; and Deb Kunce, Managing Principal at Core Planning Strategies.

Kate Martin, ISA’s Association Manager and moderator for this webinar, asked panelists which local projects they are most excited about heading into 2021.

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Mallon expressed excitement over two projects happening at CIB right now – The Bankers Life Fieldhouse renovation and phase six of the Indiana Convention Center expansion.

Mallon said the initiative to rebuild Bankers Life Fieldhouse from the inside out received a $295 million commitment from the City of Indianapolis to go along with a $55 million investment from Pacers Sports and Entertainment. At press time, phase one of the renovation was scheduled to wrap up at the end of 2020, just in time for the Pacers to host games in December, and phases two and three will bid sometime around January.

Partnering with the City of Indianapolis and Kite Realty Group for phase six of the Indiana Convention Center expansion project, CIB will construct a new hotel across the street from the current convention center. The hotel will be built on a podium where Pan Am Plaza is currently located and will add several thousand square feet of meeting space and a 50,000-square-foot ballroom to one of the country’s largest existing convention centers.

Mallon said Kite Realty Group has two years from the fall of 2020 to begin phase six. Given the hit taken by the hospitality and hotel industry during the pandemic, Mallon said this two-year window gives this project a chance of seeing a market recovery before its completion. Once the project begins, Mallon said it will take three years to finish.

Jim Stewart said Indiana University recently partnered with IU Health to construct a new hospital in Bloomington that will include a medical education component. IU’s medical education building will represent about 18 percent of the facility’s square footage and will open its doors to faculty and staff in January 2021.

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Stewart said IU is also working with IU Health to incorporate a medical education building into their consolidated campus project. He said that research facility will be developed over the next several years pending state approval.

Kunce said she is excited to see 16 Tech come to life as the project continues construction. Indianapolis’ first innovation district will open in Q1 of 2021 and will provide Indianapolis with more coworking spaces. As businesses shift their real estate needs from traditional office settings to more spacious and flexible environments, Kunce said 16 Tech will provide a unique opportunity for businesses to adapt their physical presence.

“I think that’s where 16 Tech and their innovation hub provides a real estate solution that you don’t always see in Indianapolis because it is going to be networked with all the other innovation partners and companies happening in 16 Tech,” Kunce said.

Martin then relayed an audience question to panelists asking if COVID-19 has affected tax income for the City of Indianapolis, and if that change will affect any aforementioned projects.

Mallon said the pandemic has certainly affected CIB’s tax income, but the City of Indianapolis is in better shape.

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“The biggest sources of revenue for the City are income and property tax, property tax being the most significant,” Mallon said. “That revenue lags a couple of years, so the effect of that has not yet been felt by the city.”

Mallon said the City’s $125 million investment in the Indiana Convention Center phase six project is based on property tax income, a historically stable revenue source, so CIB is confident that pandemic-related revenue losses will not affect the project.

Martin later asked panelists about how subcontractors can best serve owners during this challenging time.

Blunt reiterated the importance of subcontractors taking on responsibilities that fit in line with their areas of expertise.

“I often see jobs where a small business owner will want to be on a job so bad that they’ll take an opportunity in an area where they don’t have very much experience,” Blunt said. “Time and time again, you see that doesn’t typically work out well.”

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Stewart and Mallon agreed with Blunt and advised viewers who might find themselves in that situation to immediately alert project owners to avoid further complications.

Panelists also encouraged subcontractors and contractors to continue wearing masks at all times on these jobsites to ensure the safety of everyone involved and to avoid potential project delays caused by a COVID-19 outbreak.

“That is probably the number one fear of a lot of owners we work with,” Kunce said.

Stewart said despite all the logistical and economic challenges presented by the pandemic this year, local industry professionals have continued to demonstrate an unwavering level of expertise and reliability.

“The entire contracting and subcontracting community has done an amazing job of staying on task and keeping folks going,” Stewart said. “We didn’t see massive slowdowns on our jobs due to COVID-19, so I want to say thank you for that.”

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