Contact: Collette DuValle, 317-221-2463

Health Officials See Bright Future at Keystone Towers Site

Among those watching Sunday's implosion of the Keystone Towers apartment building will be a group of Marion County Public Health Department housing inspectors. For team leader Sheryl Crum, witnessing the implosion ends a three-year odyssey of inspections, re-inspections, boardings, re-boardings and site cleanings.

"For what once was a place to be, this site has become something no one has wanted to see," said Crum. "So many people from the health department, city, law enforcement and neighborhood groups have worked for a long time to see this day."

Since July of 2008, the health department has responded to a variety of health and safety issues. Keystone Towers' last tenants left on August 27, 2008 and the facility's lower level was boarded. Since then, health officials have continually inspected the site, looking for missing or damaged boards, replacing those boards and cleaning the site which has remained a convenient dumping ground. More than 90 board orders have been issued at the site. The health department cleaned the property in 2008 and 2009.

Keystone Towers opened in the mid-70's as an upscale apartment and office complex. Financial difficulties plagued the development, leading to numerous sales.

Marion County Commissioners transferred city ownership to the city in February after North Carolina-based Southeastern Partners, Inc. failed to pay more than $500,000 in owed taxes and penalties.

The property was part of the county's tax sale in March 2010. No one bid on it with Southeastern given 120 days to pay off the debt.

Working with city officials and those living near the once opulent 15-story complex, local health officials see the awaited demolition as a great opportunity in an area on the cusp of a redevelopment renaissance.

"You look along from I-65 to Sherman Drive and 38th street is buzzing with new development. Health and Hospital Corporation has built a new service building for the Marion County Public Health Department and has renovated several structures near its headquarters at 38th and Rural. Once the Keystone Towers site is cleared, development can certainly prosper," said corporation spokesman John T. Althardt.

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