Villaggio condos aim high: Proposed eight-story project targets downtown's SE side

February 28, 2005

A developer with deep roots in the Fletcher Place neighborhood is setting its sights on an ambitious eight-story condominium project on the southeast side of downtown.

Villaggio at Page Pointe calls for 65 condos ranging in size from 1,600 square feet to 4,300 square feet. Most units will sell for $265,000 to $530,000, with three penthouse units listed for more than $900,000.

The first floor of the building will house about 20,000 square feet of retail space. A parking garage is built into lower levels of the southern half of the building.

If it gets off the ground as anticipated this spring, the $30 million Villaggio will be by far the largest new-construction condo development downtown south of Washington Street, an area that mostly has seen smaller condo conversions of older buildings.

Locally based Page Development Inc. last year purchased a one-acre lot at the junction of Virginia, East and South streets for Villaggio. A formerly vacant printing warehouse on the site has been turned into a sales center for Villaggio, complete with a full-size condo model that opened in January.

Plans include terraces of 150 to 500 square feet for each unit to take advantage of the skyline views of downtown, said company President Tony P. Page.

The developer has filed petitions with the Department of Metropolitan Development for regional center approval of the design and for a variance to restrictions on building heights in the city center. A hearing on the variance is scheduled for April 5.

Page said he hopes to have construction plans finalized in March. Pending approvals, construction will begin when 30 units have been presold. So far, $5,000 refundable deposits for 18 units have been placed; when plans are finalized, the developer will begin signing contracts for units, Page said.

Early interest in Villaggio has been strong, Page said, with 10 to 12 people stopping by the sales center on average each day. Even with at least a dozen condo projects in the works or on the drawing board for downtown, Page said he is confident Villaggio, which lies due east of Lilly Corporate Center and across the street from WellPoint Inc.'s operations center, is positioned to succeed.

The Fletcher Place neighborhood has been going through a revitalization in recent years, with renovated and new single-family homes and a growing commercial clientele, including Domont Studio Gallery and Dunaway's restaurant. But the pace of growth has been slower than in other parts of downtown.

"There seems to be a perception that anything south of Washington Street is the south side," said Doug Dilling, a real estate agent with Century 21 at the Crossing and a Fletcher Place resident.

Dilling is marketing new-construction condos on Merrill Street just south of Villaggio. Three of the five three-bedroom, three-bathroom condos have been sold, mostly to couples who compared the asking price of $379,900 for a 2,600-squarefoot unit with high-end finishes to prices in neighborhoods farther north such as Chatham Arch and Lockerbie Square, he said.

"Obviously, downtown is expanding," Dilling said. "There is a belief that the neighborhood is solid and stable. [Property] values are on the rise and taxes are attractive."

Both Villaggio and Dilling's Merrill Street Town Homes likely will be positives for the neighborhood, said Bill Taft, executive director of the Southeast Neighborhood Development Corp.

He noted both projects lie just outside the boundaries for the Fletcher Place Historic District, making them subject to less-stringent design criteria. As such, the designs of both may raise eyebrows, as the buildings hulk above the smaller cottage-style homes typical of Fletcher Place.

However, both projects should help serve as bridges between downtown and the Fletcher Place and Fountain Square neighborhoods, he said, and bring more customers to businesses in the area.

"It's definitely setting a whole new market for Fletcher Place," said Taft, noting that few homes in the neighborhood have sold for more than $200,000.

Last year, a Lafayette-based developer floated a plan to build 32 condos on the northeast corner of New Jersey and South streets, but that plan has yet to come to fruition. John Teibel said he is still interested in the development, but that Delta Park, as it was to be called, has been put on the back burner while he works on projects in other parts of the state.

Villaggio is the latest project from locally based Page Development Inc., best known in Indianapolis as the developer of Spirit Lake, an eight-building, 60-unit condo development on Westfield Boulevard north of Broad Ripple.

The bulk of Page's condo portfolio is in Florida, where company patriarch Peter J. Page began developing condos on Sanibel Island in the 1970s. The company has five projects now in the works in Florida.

Page's son, Tony, and nephews Paul J. Page and Paul M. Pittman joined the company in the 1990s, and the younger generation soon began eyeing Indianapolis for growth.

They began construction on Spirit Lake in 2001 after a contentious zoning battle and now have sold all but five units. Sales there have run about a year and a half ahead of schedule, Page said, which prompted the company to begin looking elsewhere in Indianapolis for condo projects.

Fletcher Place was a natural choice, Page said, because of the family's long history in the area. Several generations of the Page family have lived in and around the neighborhood, he said.

Page Development has also purchased a six-unit apartment building and two adjacent vacant lots on the near-north side near Fall Creek Place. After Villaggio gets going, the company plans to convert the apartments-which include traditional features such as hardwood trim; wide, stone balconies; and marble accents-into condos. The lots on the south and north sides of the building at 2161 N. Meridian St. are slated for retail development, Page said.

The company is looking for land for additional projects as well.

"We're not done yet," he said.
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