Stutz's future includes condos: Developer envisions high-rise, nightclub as part of biz center

May 9, 2005

Stutz Business Center owner and visionary Turner Woodard last month rolled out a 10-year master plan for the Stutz that could bring condominiums, retail and a high-rise tower to the former auto-manufacturing plant at 10th Street and Capitol Avenue.

Right now, Woodard concedes many of his plans are dreams. But with a blossoming life sciences corridor just to the west along the Central Canal, Woodard said he wants the 80-year-old Stutz to continue to be a hub of activity as its surroundings move into the 21st century.

"I think it would be foolish and not in the heritage of the whole factory to not look and see what the next 10 to 15 years is going to bring and not position ourselves appropriately," Woodard said.

The 400,000-square-foot Stutz building lies two blocks east of the BioCrossroads research community at the head of the Central Canal. Woodard purchased the building in 1993. In 2001, he bought the 70,000-square-foot Ideal Motor Car Co. building just south of the Stutz and renamed it Stutz II.

Since then, the area has continued its transformation from a manufacturing center. Clarian Health Partners' consolidated laboratory facility is set to open at the head of the canal next year, and Indiana University School of Medicine recently began construction on a new research building on the west side of the canal. Renovations now under way on Buggs Temple promise to bring restaurants to the area, and IU's Emerging Technologies Center is hoping to expand on the east side of the canal.

Developments now in progress will bring several hundred new workers to the immediate neighborhood within five years, and Woodard is among developers who believe their arrival will spur ancillary development.

"I've thought that as the neighborhood develops, what is really going to be needed is a true mixed-use addition," Woodard said. "But it may or may not be that. It may end up being more residential or office."

This year or next, Woodard plans to use part of the Stutz's roof for rooftop condos using "greenroof" technology, which essentially involves turning all or a portion of a building's roof into a landscape, where plants and organic material help cool a building and extend the life of roofing materials.

The number of condos built on top of the four-story building will depend on engineering factors and demand for the units, Woodard said. He said the goal is to build four to 12 units priced somewhere between $400,000 and $700,000.

Also on tap are improvements to the existing Stutz buildings, including new entrances and windows. Woodard's own offices and those of Turner John Management, which handles leasing of the complex, are set to be renovated. Woodard also plans landscape improvements and restoration of part of the building's façade.

At some point, a nightclub could be added to the Stutz's basement.

Further down the road, the Stutz's 10-year plan calls for a tower to be constructed at the southeast corner of 11th Street and Senate Avenue, on the site of existing non-historic loading docks and a two-story warehouse.

Woodard plans to lead development of the short-term improvements, but in an introduction to the 10-year plan said he may need to team up with another developer on the tower.

Several versions of the tower are featured in the 10-year plan, including 12-and 24-story options with different design styles.

"We have not really hit on a design that has totally wowed me," Woodard said. "If I can, I want that."

Regardless of the final design, the first four floors will mirror the style of the original Stutz factory. Stutz owner Harry Stutz originally planned a fifth building on that site but sold the factory before it was built, Woodard said.

From the fourth floor up, details are still up in the air, he said. The mix of uses could include combinations of retail, parking, offices and apartments spread over eight to 24 floors, Woodard said.

Although the tower is still in many ways a dream, it's possible construction could begin as soon as 2008, he said. A second tower a block south is also a possibility.

Regardless of where Woodard's 10-year plan takes the Stutz, changes to the neighborhood appear imminent. The Stutz's location bodes well for the complex, said Terry Sweeney, director of real estate at Indianapolis Downtown Inc.

The Stutz sits near the Indiana Avenue and Canal cultural districts and between two of downtown's greenspaces, the canal and the War Memorial plaza. The Stutz and its tenants, which include a concentration of artists and other creative professionals, have also been influential in the city's burgeoning arts and cultural movement.

"With the intersecting of the cultural districts and the research community, it will create an interesting dynamic that should help attract people to the area," Sweeney said.

The area northwest of downtown, which is made up largely of former and current industrial buildings, will change substantially in the next five years as development spreads north of downtown's center and south from Methodist Hospital at 16th Street, Sweeney predicted.

"More and more buildings are being renovated for either office or residential use," he said.

Just to the north of the Stutz, Shiel Sexton Co. Inc. and Gregory & Appel Insurance are teaming up to redevelop the former S. Cohn & Son Inc. building at 1402 N. Capitol Ave. The partnership received approval from the Metropolitan Development Commission on May 4 to redevelop the industrial site for retail and office use.

Plans call for a four-story office building and a one-story retail building on Capitol between 14th and 15th streets.
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