City prepares to bring down former police station

May 17—The city of Terre Haute is looking to demolish the old police station at Wabash Avenue and 12th Street sooner rather than later so the property can be taken over by private-sector interests.

The Redevelopment Commission is expected to issue RFPs — or request for proposals — to hear from prospective developers for the site in June, but Mayor Brandon Sakbun said, "We're actually hoping to take it down before that."

He added, "We hope to finalize an agreement with a developer this summer. The construction timeline will not be finalized until a developer is selected in the RFP process."

He added that the goal is to use Thrive West Central's American Rescue Plan Act funds from its ambitious housing project to demolish the existing station.

"For this project, we believe a multi-use building that offers commercial space and residential space is needed," Sakbun said in an email. "Our housing study highlighted the need for increased apartments. This location offers quality of life amenities being close to downtown.

"Therefore, a decision was made to pursue a multi-use facility," he added. The multi-use factor makes the building eligible for Thrive funds."

The mayor said the city anticipates cost of demolition will be in the area of $300,000 to $400,000.

In 2022, a developer was approved to build a hybrid dorm edifice catering to Indiana State University students as well as young professionals on the property. The company would have hired local subcontractors to demolish the old structure and would acquire the parcel of land for $1, but receive no other tax abatements.

"That plan ultimately fell through due to a lack of being able to obtain proper financing to ensure completion of the project," said Jordan Marvel, Redevelopment Commission executive director.

"This administration believes that a public RFP process and partnering with Thrive will open the door for more developers to apply for this project," Sakbun said. "Healthy competition in the market leads to a scenario where we can select a project that requires less public funding than traditional public-private-partnerships."

Demolition will take about one week. The mayor said that having Thrive handle the demolition will benefit the developer.

"The demolition process will create a site-ready parcel that is easier to develop," he said. "If we handle demolition, the site is more marketable."

Actually, it's a win-win, Sakbun said, because selling public land to private-sector interests benefits all involved and, further, underscores the city's aptitude in assisting in private-sector projects.

"It shows that government owned this building [and] we're going to take it down and set it up where the private sector can come in and turn a profit," he said. "Public sector property allows municipalities to provide incentives to close market gaps."

Sakbun added, "We are on track to see over $70,000,000 [in] private dollars invested in downtown Terre Haute in the administration's first year. The city's ability to properly develop city owned parcels leads to population increases and an increased tax base."

No set timeline has been established on when the project will be completed.

"Some developers are touting an 8- to 10-month project, some an 18-month," said Sakbun.

Terre Haute police moved into their new headquarters on South Seventh Street, the remodeled former Tribune-Star building, in October 2021.

Tribune-Star writer Mark Bennett also contributed to this article.

David Kronke can be reached at 812-231-4232 or at