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Ivy Tech saving facade for classroom building

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Ivy Tech Community College plans to save the facade of a historic former hospital along Fall Creek Parkway and build a new 150,000-square-foot academic building behind it.

The proposed building would include much-needed classrooms and science labs for a downtown campus that has quadrupled its enrollment to about 22,000 students over the past 10 years.

Ivy Tech officials said an architectural study found that renovating the entire building for classroom use would have been possible but not cost effective. The building, which served as St. Vincent Hospital from 1913 to 1974, has been vacant for about five years.

Most recently, the building was a senior apartment complex known as Weyerbacher Terrace. The federal government shut it down in 2003 and turned the property over to the city.

The state-run college bought the 5-acre property between Illinois Street and Capitol Avenue from the city for $1 in May 2006 in a deal that required preservation of most of the original hospital and adjoining chapel.

But Ivy Tech officials, citing prohibitive costs, last year asked the city for permission to demolish the building instead. City planners and historic preservation groups pressured the college to rethink their approach, so Ivy Tech reversed course and announced a deal for private developers to turn the building into student housing.

That deal never found financing, leading Ivy Tech to revisit the possibility of a new academic building. The college said the city has reviewed and will support the design of the new building.

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