A downtown transformation

November 9, 2007
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Legends DistrictA development team is finalizing plans for a $480 million mixed-use project that calls for condos, as many as three hotels, a theater and 175,000 square feet of retail space just south of downtown. The project, Legends District—SODO, could be one of the largest private developments in the city’s history. It would sprawl over 11 acres that are now home to several parking lots, Subway and Arby’s restaurants and the former Chateau Thomas Winery. This Ratio Architects rendering is a view from Lilly's Faris Campus. (Click image for a larger version.) The developer's vision is for an independent downtown destination that would honor Indiana’s legends in sports, arts, entertainment and politics. Renderings show a series of giant outdoor television screens and ribbon-screens ala Times Square that would loop clips of Hoosier legends such as Larry Bird, David Letterman, John Mellencamp and the Andretti family. The full story is here. What do you think?
  • Wow! That's a big development! I was thinking that south of the tracks should be called Lucasville (kinda like Wrigleyville), but I guess Sodo works.
  • As a resident of downtown, dying for so something like Target, this is music to my ears.

    However, my fear with this is the same with Venu. This theater and the theater at Venu is really going to give Clowes Hall and the Murat strong competition, and something is going to have to give somewhere.

    All in all though, I am intensely excited about this.
  • This is GREAT NEWS! Now about that one parcel of land, MSA....
  • AWESOME! Yes, this is how our city can progress and take a big step in the right direction.
  • Holy crap! Ask for Venu-like investment downtown and ye shall receive.

    The only thing I worry about is the independent word in the description. I don't want something insular -- it should embrace and be part of downtown.
  • ...part of downtown.

    Problem is -- and I think some comments have appeared on this blog another time -- the railroad tracks at South Street can't help but act as Downtown Indy's southern fortress walls.
  • The development would obviously benefit from its proximity to the football stadium, but, wouldn't Lucas Stadium serve as a large-scale entertainment venue, too?

    SODO would certainly cast a big shadow over the proposed Ralston Square!
  • Independent was my word. The developers want the project to be able to stand alone, as opposed to supporting other destinations downtown like Conseco Fieldhouse or the mall.
  • It will be interesting to watch how Ballard reacts to requests for property tax abatements now that he's actually been elected mayor by people who were awfully angry about paying property tax. Sure, this development will create jobs, but I doubt those angry taxpayers will just say 'Oh, sure, it's OK -- they need their profits and we need the jobs they offer, so they don't have to pay.'
  • This is an exciting development but is it a done deal?
    I know the land is in place but has the financing been secured?
    Will a zoning approval have to take place and if so, has it?
    If the developer doesn't get the tax abatement will the project be scrapped?

    There are so many downtown projects on the boards I have lost count. As soon as I get excited about one thinking its a go (MSA site) something prevents it from happening.
  • How many Target stores can the Metro area support? I don't doubt a downtown Target would be successful, but didn't one of the proposed MSA developments say there would be a Target store?
  • If SODO becomes reality, maybe the city should just turn the MSA parking lot into a city park.

    With all of the condos going up, and hotels and SODO's promise of weighty retail anchors, all that's structurally left for MSA would be affordable housing.
  • Well, kevin f, I guess we'll have the answers to all (or most) of your questions fairly quickly. Seems the developers have officially closed on the first parcel of land and with such an aggressive timeline for completion, I assume that most of these issues will be hammered out in rather short order.

    Glad to see all this development occuring south of the traditional downtown core. This sounds like a very exciting project, indeed!
  • Nice work man. Would this include tearing down the White Castle?
  • WOW WOW WOW. This is great news! I have been reading about this trend in other cities. Kansas City has the Power & Light District, Columbus has the Arena District, and St. Louis is doing this near their ballpark (I can't remember its name). I had wondered why no developer had though of this for the area in and around the Luke. Evidently they had!

    I really hope that this gets pulled off as it will really anchor the Luke with the Wholesale District and the rest of downtown. VERY EXCITING!!!!
  • oh...and now were are a big city...we have SoDo!
  • CoryW -- You're not sad that your Subway is going to go?! Heh!
    I am so excited! If this is built, it will totally connect downtown and the Luke. The architecture isn't too bad either. I'm extremely excited about this! It could do so much for the city.
  • Indiana Jones brings up a good thought that I have had for years. The City should stop trying to shoe-horn some development onto the MSA site and instead build (or have built) a second installment of the City-County Building complex. The City pays millions in rent to private owners now and agencies are scattered all over the City. Better to bring them back in to a central point and save the rent. No one really wants to pay $600,000 for a condo and live across the street from the City lockup and criminal courts, as evidenced by the terrible pre-sales history. Further, no one can finance the MSA condo deal because it is too large for the City and must be built all at once. Finally, the excess profits have been wrung out of downtown condo development by the now growing over-supply of units. The MSA condo deal should be, and probably is, dead. If the City really wants to consolidate its government, then lets put them all in one place where they are accessible all at one time and are accountable to the Mayor.
  • Murphy -- you should take a look at the Indianapolis Regional Center 2020 Plan:


    It recommends that the City-County Complex extend south end east from the City-County Building toward the train tracks. I firmly believe that the MSA site should include a large residential component. If now is not the right time for residential at the MSA site, I say don't build anything. I fall on the side of The Urbanophile, who argues that building nothing is often better than building the wrong thing.
  • You can't swing a cat downtown these days without hitting a hotel developer. I think every man, woman and child in Indy should own one and get a tax abatement, too. If you, the reader, don't own one , what are you waiting for? There is no end to the demand.
  • Like all of these other 'pie in the sky' 'excite us on the internet' deveoper stories, SODO will remain a figment of someone's imagination and architect's drawing. You know it, and I know it.
    Secondly, the MSA parking lot should have been a govenment extension of the CCB preferably with a connective tunnel, walkways and escalators from the beginning. The CCB ran out of space 35 years ago.
  • georgeorwell Says: I'm a negative nancy!
  • This puts the Target even closer to my place.. big money big money no wammies!!
  • This is DOA under the Ballard administration.
  • awesome!! what a great project that will forever change the face of downtown. the only thing that scares me is that they would tear down the old chateau thomas winery building...that's a cool historic building with built-in character! but i'm still pumped!
  • I love this project - Hope Ballard is as open to downtown development as Peterson
  • SoDo would be a great as well as a welcomed addition to downtown. Arts, entertainment, shopping and housing. But - are you not forgetting about a major piece of land and it's building - the Main US Post Office. For years - there has been rumors of it moving to the Ameriplex site off US 67 in southwest Indy. And to my knowledge - Lilly owns the land - but not the building. For SoDo to be truly successful - does USPS need to go....?
  • This is very exciting. I agree with earlier posters, those of us wanting a development like Venu downtown are getting what we asked for. Maybe not as vertical but still an exciting, multi-purpose development. Imagine if the city builds that transportation hub at the post office site. This property will be situated perfectly to take advantage of the increased pedestrian traffic.
  • Uh - I'm confused. You've got one part of this project that is sort of an Indiana Hall of Fame and they plan to pair that with a Target, Best Buy and Dick's --- and you actually feel this is going to be a major draw and asset? Did I read that wrong? Uh, no... The hall of Fame aspect is laughable as a concept - well, to any outsider - of which I'm guess there are none on this board but me...

    This is TOTALLY unlike Venu or the P & L District in KC or Ballpark Village in STL or the Arena District (a lesser development, done in stages and not as a cohesive development) in Columbus.

    Visit this site --- check out the Warehouse District link - to see a real downtown project that will be transformational and exciting: www.starkenterprises.com

    (The MSA site should be so lucky)
  • This is quite different than the MSA project. The city is not forcing this to happen.. soliciting ideas.. setting deadlines.. it's a private sector project which makes me just that much more excited to see it happen. For a group to come in and acquire many pieces of land makes me believe that this can actually happen. I think the timeline is a bit aggressive considering the new administration.. but anything is possible. And, I hope that the development is not contingent on a tax abatement..

    While I believe that something like Target is needed downtown.. but what people REALLY want is a grocery store that is not O'Malias. When I talk to people I work with who wish they could live downtown.. one of the cons to living downtown is the fact that there is not a large grocery store. (Let's be honest.. if you live in one of the new downtown developments, you probably are not going to drive to the E 10th St Kroger.)

    As for the MSA Land.. Pave it.. you could fit more cars in it that way. Also.. if Dennison would charge $1.50 for 3 Hours like the Circle Centre garages.. I wouldn't feel so bad about going to the CCB for a quick errand.
  • Very few details, so it is way too early to comment, but anything that gets rid of Arby's and Subway can't be all bad. This would be absolutely huge in my opinion because not only are those South St. developments absolute garbage, but it would be pretty much the first time we've seen newer development demolished in order to redevelop as better. That's a hugely positive sign for downtown Indy and gives me some hope that a lot of the poorer quality development that was erected in the last 20 years might eventually get swept away.

    As for competition from a theater, uh, competition is GOOD.
  • Thanks for posting Urbanophile, I always looks forward to your posts!
  • I am curiouse if maybe this could revitilize more near southside neighborhoods. Maybe we could see more renovations of older structures and good infill. Downtown is really spreading southward.
  • Wow. I wasn't expecting this at all! I'm excited for several reasons! 1. South of the tracks! 2. The city isn't directly involved!! and 3. Maybe they'll actually bring in some stimulating architecture. I'd like to see a TOWER...but of course you can't tell anything from a conceptual drawing.

    I don't know what to say about MSA. I know there's still PLENTY of HUGE parking lots downtown in very prime areas. I think so long as they don't do something completely stupid, it'll be fine. I'd love to see something really cool there, but we all know how things go when the city gets too involved.
  • Great project would like to see more vertical though. This could be the start of
    many more projects in the area. They mentioned 480 million for the first phase
    I am wondering what the second phase will cost and consist of. By the way took
    a tour of Lucas Stadium. The place is going to be great.
  • I don't understand why none of my entries are being submitted. Why does it keep dissapearing?
  • What the hell is wrong with the Colts!?!?!?!?!
  • Please. that game wasn't even that big a deal. when clark and harrison come back we'll be great. I was really pissed that guy missed that field goal though.

    But to the project, it sounds interesting to me. and Dwirth, why wouldn't the Indiana Hall of Fame be interesting? Especially considering the large conventions Indy gets, I'm sure someone will be curious as to who's famous from Indiana. I'm pretty sure retail will be in one area of the project, and this hall of fame thing the other; not right by each other.
  • I am European and lived in Indy between 1984 and 1991 (downtown). How I would have wished to see all the excitement and activity then. I did not have a car (being a studuent) had to buy food from the Hooks drug store...Thank heavens for some visionary mayors and other people who have understood that woithout a lively core a city is like a rotten apple.
  • Dustin,

    Maybe it's because you're a dufus.
  • I agree, Braden, that what downtown needs to make it more livable is a selection of grocery stores. Living in a downtown core is supposed to be about diversity and options, right? Where is the Trader Joe's and Whole Foods - both of whom have penetrated downtown markets actively in the past five years, in other cities, that is. Where are the small produce vendors? The Asian/Mexican/Italian/Jewish groceries? And the delis that sell eggs and milk out of their refrigerator cases?

    Plus, they need to be open until 10pm.

    And: you have to be able to walk to them.

    I know, I'm asking too much. But much as I love him, I'd rather have groceries than a 30-foot high screen of David Letterman.
  • These names...Target, Best Buy, and Dick's, are just 'Wish List' retailers. No deals yet...and, if Dick's goes in there, I will eat my arm off. A retailer that looks primarily at middle school/high school age children within 5 miles will not go downtown. I believe that would be Dick's only downtown store...and they aren't exactly in love with Indy after the Galyan's takeover.

    This will be great if it happens, but don't take these retailer names as gospel.
  • I'm very excited about this project. I hope they set their sights high in terms of architecture and retailers. I'd like to see something like the Ballpark Village being built in San Diego. Mixed use, but also with dedicated affordable housing for the area (i.e., condos downtown well under 300k).
    While I agree the tracks have been a barrier to development south of downtown, why should things remain that way? I hope the stadium sparks even more development down there. And hopefully it is dense and fitting for downtown. Now I guess the questions is whether the new mayor will support such efforts and realize that to encourage private investment he may have to hand out a tax break or two.
  • Regarding the MSA site. To be more detailed, if I were Ballard I would work out a swap of the half block between Alabama and New Jersey on the north side of Washington St. (a paved parking lot) for the half block that is on the north side of Market St. That would give the City a complete block. Then, I would float a bond issue to build another CCB and connect it to the existing CCB. That would allow the City to consolidate its outlying offices and, hopefully, save some money while greatly improving the synergies of having all of the City offices at one location. If the City uses good foresight, it could design the new building to allow for filling in between it and the older CCB over Alabama St., thus creating even more square footage that will be needed sometime in the next 30 years or so.

    The new owner of the half block on the north side of Market could then decide what should be done with that property, subject to the several layers of zoning that would need to be satisfied. Since it would be a smaller site and would not need to bridge Market St. anymore, it could encompass the mixed uses that might be appropriate at that time and could be built in phases so that the developer does not have to be a giant to make it work.

    While I am at it, doesn't it make you concerned that many of the alleged development teams for the MSA redevelopment have had previous Democrat Deputy Mayors as a part of the leadership and/or ownership? Does being an ex-Deputy Mayor make you a real estate executive? If I were Ballard, I would avoid such obvious cronyism like the plague. No wonder all of them have so far failed. The development must make economic sense or it will either (1) need massive injections of tax dollars up front, or (2) fail and need massive injections of tax dollars to bail it out. For instance, I estimate the total cost to the City of the Simon Headquarters was about $25 million. Paying someone to build an office building, or shopping center, or condos, should be acceptable to the citizens. Public money should be for public buildings [like the Public Library. Thanks, again].

    Ballard does not need to force the issue on the MSA land, and does not need to relocate the Market St./I-65/I70 interchange, either. The grand plan to redo Market St. has so far not worked. Maybe that is because it is unnecessary and cannot support the overwhelming costs to the taxpayers that will be required to force it into being. When the value of the land, in real terms, reaches the right amount, private developers will swoop in and redevelop it with things that are self-supporting. The zoning authorities have tight control over what will be allowed, but they cannot make things work that don't work, so I hope that the new MDC and IHPC members come to their new positions with sufficient business backgrounds to be able to tell the difference. Let's drop the politics and get to the business of making economic sense of our use of the land.
  • I hope this project goes through, but honestly I have my doubts, especially if any help is needed from the City. Ballard scares me when it comes to future develpment Downtown. I don't see him looking too favorably on any concepts or ideas that could resemble Mayor Bart, whether it be Downtown development or culture and the arts. I think Indy could regret these next four years.
  • This development is merely Marquis Tower with a much better conceptual designer. This is poorly-targeted dream tenants/uses and architecture that is clearly too expensive to afford without massive subsidies. To me, the proposal reads like a list of bells and whistles attempting to attract attention. The art of promotion does not constitute real estate development and, while dreaming big is fun, trying to wish away the realities of the market is not business.
  • I agree with the skeptics on this project -- it seems a bit much pie in the sky -- the Indiana legends concept appears to be a bit forced, (or bells and whistles, as real broker suggested) Three hotels? How many other hotel projects have been proposed for downtown or near downtown? There is a need for retail outlets like Target etc, but I will genuinely be surprised if this one ever gets off the drawing boards.

    While I am on my soapbox, the lack of progress on the MSA site can be attributed to one word: greed. It seems like everyone from Bart Peterson on down have been a little too greedy in their expectations for this site -- I am not sure that the market is there for the large number of very expensive condos that developers think this site is capable of. Why don't we tone down our expectations and fill in the MSA site with condos like those that are in Lockerbie, Mass Ave, etc-- three or four story townhomes, some apts, some retail, tree-lined streets, etc - you can throw in some 500K to 1M condos, but the majority should be 200 to 400K. Let's get a dose of reality here about how much the market can bear. This is especially true now that the cultural trail's first phase is moving toward completion in the neighbrohood.....if we don';t wake up, we will be waiting a long time for anything to happen on this site.
  • To all the skeptics saying this project won't get off the ground because it won't get the subsidies it needs from the cities, this is from WTHR's story on the project:

    The project will go up in phases. Developers will not seek tax abatements. They hope to break ground in late 2008 and may open in time for the Holidays in 2010.

  • Theres a better chance of seeing IUPUI winning the final four than this project ever seeing the light of day.
  • I don't understand why you people are all being so needlessly pessimistic. Typical Hoosier mentality.
  • Definitely not enough details to do any type of thorough analysis, but my initial reaction is that this is a great proposal for SODO.

    It is good to see that solid infill/redevelopment projects continue to be proposed for the area south of the tracks. This should quiet the naysayers who see the tracks as a barrier to development. As i have written before, i think the tracks are an incredible asset when considering future mass transit options and as development spreads south, the tracks will become ever more centrally located.
  • Was there a link from teh Star boards to this website? Where are all of these naysayers coming form ? This place used to be a refuge for those of us who actually understand the business and development environment here in Indy as well as a place for us to brag/boast on our great City. All fo you Negative Nancy's, go away!!!!!
  • CoryW, as a matter of fact, some dolt DID put a link to the IBJ boards on the IndyStar thread about this project. Why someone would do that I have no idea. I've always enjoyed the intelligent discussions and debates which occur here at Property Lines and I sure don't want it to become what the IndyStar boards have turned into: an endless web of uninformed and unintelligent ramblings.
  • [Comment deleted by the moderator] Please stay focused on discussing the project.
  • I wasn't aware that Dick's target market was midddle/high school students. I am far above that age bracket and shop at Dick's frequently. The merchandise to me seems geared to adults. I also don't understand the not fond of Indianapolis. They have a huge presence in the Indianapolis market. Please provide facts.
  • How about we refrain from the personal attacks and actually talk about the project and its implications.

    This project, and a number of other proposed that are located in the southern part of downtown, show that development of these areas are desirable even if they don't get completed because it shows that developers feel that they can turn a profit on this land. This is great news for the areas just outside the innerbelt on the southside. Great historic fabric exists there and the area's crime rate will be reduced with new development. Lots of potential for these neighborhoods.
  • yes...we have been invaded by the indystar posters. let's take a collective breath and maybe they'll go away. looking forward to this project and the details to come. also looking forward to renderings of the paramount tower. limestone?? i love it! surprised more buildings don't try to use more limestone (i know it's cost-prohibitive) since it's quarried so close to us. cory, any details on if they'll incorporate the old chateau thomas winery building into the plans? again, it would be a shame to lose an cool, old building for a seemingly needless reason (considering the vast amount of surface parking in the city proper).
  • Can anybody tell me what the paramount tower is mentioned in post 58
  • Jonesman, I believe it is the new high-rise student housing tower proposed for IUPUI? To be located somewhere near the canal off of Ohio Street? I could be way off, but thats what I seem to remember....
  • How much of our tax dollars are they gonna give away for this boondoggle?
  • You are correct Marshall. Jonesman you can find the link on the home page of ibj.com, being an iupui student myself, I am overly esatic about Paramount Towers!!! Along with the Cosmopolitan a block away, this is going to be one helluva a dense and exciting neighborhood to live in!! I can see the canal level area in front of the cosmo being a great college age hangout!! SODO looks like an amazing project that I can not wait to see begin construction. Since the articles have mentioned the land already being owned I am very optimistic and can not wait to do big box shopping dt :)
  • Ryan: The plans that I've seen would eliminate the existing winery building.
    Jonesman: Just posted a new item on Paramount Tower. Hopefully I'll have renderings in the next few weeks.
  • CoryW, it looks like the naysayers were correct! Arbys won't be selling anytime soon.
  • I haven't seen a footprint of the proposed development. Does it include shutting down any streets? I hope we can avoid more isolation and sectoring of the dowtown grid. Flashing icons of Hoosier celebs on giant outdoor television screens sounds pretty tacky. Build something that is timeless and attractive and people will come.
  • Mville, I'm sure Arby's will be selling when they get the amount of money they want. It's all about stubborness and greed.
  • Bill -- No major streets are affected, but the project appears to vacate the Scioto St. alley, which currently runs N-S between Arby's and Subway. On the other hand, Henry St. currently stops at Pennsylvania but the plan appears to show it extending from Pennsylvania over to the CSX tracks. I'd call it a wash. You can get a better idea of the layout from some of the renderings I have posted here:

  • I really hope this project happens. This type of development is popping up all over the country. Cincy just approved the Banks, KC is developing the Power & Light District, Columbus has the Arena District, and Nashville is doing SoBro. They are all associated with large arenas/stadiums and are similar is size/context/anchors. I have always joked that when downtown, patrons should pay no attention to the land south of South Street.

    This project should get tax credits or be developed using a TIF. This will really change the face of downtown and will be another feather in downtown's cap. Maybe the failed proposal for Pan Am plaza (not the InterContinental, but the restaurant idea from a few months back) could be added to this too?

    OH...Star Message Boarders, we like it here. Let's keep it that way!
  • It's now mid March and I was wondering if SoDo is still going to happen. Has anyone heard anything lately?
  • I can now answer my own question. I did a search yesturday concerning SoDo and found this website...check it out

  • Wow, that video and PDF got me kind of excited. It would awesome for the legends project to actually happen...With LOS and The Ralston Project it would make South St. pretty amazing.

    I would love to see those parking lots and fast food joints disappear.
  • Update on the SODO website. It has been changed to www.sodoindy.com

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