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School moving to vacant downtown building

May 3, 2011

A small private school that serves gifted and talented students intends to move to a downtown building that has been vacant since a daycare center moved out three years ago.

Todd Academy plans to move this month to the 16,000-square-foot former Day Nursery Association building at 855 N. East St. The school is leaving a 5,000-square-foot building owned by the local real estate firm Axia Urban at 302 N. East St. in Lockerbie Square.

Sharon Todd, executive director of the school, said the two-year term of the lease will give the school just enough time to identify another downtown building that it can buy, renovate and occupy as a permanent home.

The school, which serves about 30 students in grades five through 12, has grown from just two students when it was founded in 2002. The downtown location is important because of its proximity to IUPUI, where several students in the school take early college courses.

“Downtown has become their place,” Todd said of her students, who come from nine counties in the Indianapolis area. “They are suburban kids who aren’t used to walking,” she said. But they’ve discovered they can walk between Todd Academy and IUPUI when the weather allows.

The 1.8-acre site comes with 32 parking spaces and will accommodate some outdoor recreational facilities that Todd Academy students haven’t had, Todd said.

Terms of the lease, other than the two-year duration, weren’t divulged, but Todd described the rent as “way below” market. The asking price online was $9.75 a square foot.

The owner of the property, a partnership led by Paul M. VeZolles of Charlotte, N.C., bought it in 2009 for almost $828,000.

VeZolles, an Indianapolis native, said the lease isn’t signed but he’s hopeful it will be finalized soon. He said the school would be a good placeholder for the property until he can put together a redevelopment plan, which he said would likely include a mix of single-family and multi-family housing.

The site is in the Chatham Arch historic district, where improvements are governed by the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission. VeZolles’ property is bounded on the east by Park Avenue, which is populated with a mix of new and historic single-family homes and duplexes that look out on the former daycare center.

VeZolles said his goal is to develop the property in a way that neighbors will agree is a benefit to the area.

In the near term, neighbors might benefit from the school. Todd said students are required to perform between and 10 and 20 hours a month of community service and in the past have participated in activities of the Lockerbie Square neighborhood to fulfill that requirement.

She wants to occupy the building before school ends June 10 so that parents of prospective students can see where their children would be attending class.

Todd is represented by Joseph Barney of Indianapolis Downtown Real Estate. VeZolles’ broker is Rob Lukemeyer of Baseline Commercial real estate.

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