IBJNews

Grocery, housing projects could rejuvenate stretch of 16th Street

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A troubled low-income housing project called Caravelle Commons has a new owner with plans to redevelop the complex to better connect with the Herron Morton Place neighborhood.

Next door, the grocery chain Kroger has revived efforts to acquire land and plan a new supermarket at 16th and Central Avenue to replace a cramped, old-format location. The chain bought the corner a few years ago, closed on a vacant parcel that was previously part of Caravelle earlier this year, and is negotiating with the owner of another vacant lot.

Together, the developments could represent a turning point for a blighted stretch of 16th Street that has bedeviled the surrounding neighborhood for years. Community groups aren’t getting hopes up just yet; talk of redevelopment along the stretch has been buzzing for at least a decade.

But they are encouraged by plans to either drastically revamp or replace the 65-unit Caravelle, which sits on about seven acres north of 16th Street between Central and College avenues.

The Indianapolis Housing Agency bought the complex in March from the Near North Development Corp., which took over the failed co-op in 2003. Near North stepped in to refinance, renovate and stabilize the property with an eye toward eventually selling it to a more appropriate owner, said Michael Osborne, the group’s president.

Demolition likely

The 1970s suburban-style complex sits in the middle of a historic urban neighborhood and invites crime with its dead-end streets and fenced-in apartment homes that surround crowded parking lots.

The housing agency, which administers the federal Section 8 program, used a grant of about

$400,000 from a city housing trust fund to acquire the property and begin drawing up plans for redevelopment. The agency already has won stimulus grants it expects to apply to the project’s cost and also plans to apply for low-income housing tax credits. The group declined to provide an estimate of the project’s ultimate cost.

At a minimum, the Indianapolis Housing Agency plans to reopen Park Avenue, which now dead-ends in the complex, and take down fences that surround the apartment buildings.

But there’s a “good chance” the plans will involve demolition of the existing complex, at 1643 N. Park Ave., and the construction of a more urban-looking replacement, said Bruce Baird, the group’s director of strategic planning and development.

“We don’t like the layout—it’s very nonurban,” Baird said. “It’s a typical 1970s urban renewal project that doesn’t fit within the neighborhood at all.”

The agency would like to rebuild the apartments on an expanded footprint; it just bought a boarded-up home adjacent to the existing complex and is talking with city officials about taking over a city-owned parcel at the northeast corner of 16th Street and Park Avenue that would be ideal for a mixed-use building, Baird said.

Neighbors are eager for improvements they see as long overdue.

“We are dying for something to happen there. We are waiting with bated breath,” said Kellie Welborn, a board member of Herron Morton Neighborhood Association.

Welborn said her group wants to improve the neighborhood for all residents, including those of Caravelle.

The housing agency hopes to hold on to current residents of the complex, which now is 100-percent occupied. The group has promised the neighborhood an update on its progress in December.

Grocery coveted

Neighbors are so eager for a full-service grocery store that they briefly considered boycotting the existing, 22,000-square-foot Kroger before deciding that visiting frequently could be more persuasive, Welborn said. One worry for some: the impact on the neighborhood of a potential Kroger fuel station.

Kroger already owns about an acre at the northeast corner of 16th Street and Central Avenue and has an option to buy another parcel to the north from the King Park Area Development Corp. It bought a vacant portion of the Caravelle property behind its existing store, and the chain also recently opened negotiations with the owner of a vacant lot at 1625 Central Ave. that’s listed for $49,900.

“There’s been talk of a Kroger going in there for eight years,” said Mark Jones, whose locally based Copasetic Investments bought the lot from a bank about 18 months ago. “I think it would be a savvy move on Kroger’s part. There’s not a newer grocery store in the area, and with all the growth I’d say there’s a need.”

Kroger spokesman John Elliott said the chain has had trouble acquiring all the real estate it would need for a new store but hasn’t given up. The chain is in an “expansion and investment mode” in Indianapolis; it just opened a new store at 71st Street and Binford Boulevard, is building another in Nora and a third is in the works for West Carmel.

Workers last week were installing new fixtures in the produce section and doing other work to spruce up the 16th Street store. Kroger will monitor whether that investment provides a boost to sales before it decides how to proceed, Elliott said.  

A few properties could prove pivotal to a potential new Kroger store: A row of three boarded-up and graffiti-covered 1930s apartment buildings that occupy a large lot between Central Avenue and the existing store. Two of the buildings are owned by local investors John Sherby and Steve Blankenship of S&B Investments and a third is owned by an affiliate of Countrywide Mortgage.

S&B had hoped to acquire all three for a redevelopment but couldn’t secure financing to buy the last one, so the company is offering its buildings for sale at $49,917 each, said Stacy Sheedy, the registered agent for the company.

“He would be more than happy to sell to Kroger if he could,” she said of one of the two owners.

The third building could be tougher to acquire: It is saddled with more than $100,000 in liens, more than the building likely is worth.•

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?

ADVERTISEMENT