The new owner of a 110-year-old building in the heart of Fountain Square is planning a renovation and expansion that will turn it into a restaurant, bar and 450-seat music hall called Pioneer.
Bryce Caldwell, a Zionsville native who lives downtown, bought the 8,000-square-foot former home of Deano’s Vino restaurant and wine shop at 1110 S. Shelby St. last December. The two-story building sits where Shelby and Prospect streets and Virginia Avenue come together, across from the neighborhood’s namesake fountain and the Fountain Square Theatre building.
A 4,200-square-foot, two-story addition on the south side of the building will accommodate the independent music venue. Construction could start within a month. Caldwell’s goal is to open Pioneer by New Year’s Day.
The Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission, which reviews exterior improvements in Fountain Square and the city’s other historic districts, signed off on the project design in March and approved a parking variance. The property will have 36 on-site parking spaces, fewer than the 145 typically required.
The existing brick building, constructed in 1900, will get new windows and doors, restored and/or replaced storefront openings and new awnings. The building addition will be clad in brick and metal. The project architect is Demerly Architects.
“I’ve been scouting locations for two or three years,” said Caldwell, who looked at buildings in and around Broad Ripple and on Massachusetts Avenue before pulling the trigger on the Fountain Square property.
“I really love what Fountain Square is doing and what they’re all about,” he said, noting the neighborhood’s growing collection of live music venues, including Radio Radio and White Rabbit, which are around the corner on Prospect Street. Another music hall, La Revolucion, was scheduled to open on Prospect Street last week.
Caldwell said he doesn’t have any background in real estate or music—just a passion for live music and plenty of advice from people both here and far away. Advisers in Portland helped him with his business plan. He’s also gotten support and advice from the owners of the nearby Murphy Arts Building and from Southeast Neighborhood Development, the community development corporation that works to stimulate economic development in the neighborhood.
“We’re really excited about it. It seems like it’s going to be a first-class facility,” said Mark Stewart, president of SEND, who noted the new construction portion of the project is unusual in Fountain Square, where renovation opportunities are more prevalent.
Pioneer will follow a flurry of activity along Virginia Avenue. The Murphy Arts Center just to the north of Caldwell’s building just leased 5,000-square-feet to the Heartland Film Festival for its offices and 2,500-square feet on the north end of the building, along Woodlawn Avenue, to La Margarita, a Mexican restaurant that has another location at 96th and Meridian streets.
Larry Jones, one of the owners of the Murphy building, said space for Heartland and La Margarita should be built out by July. He said he and Craig Von Deylen, his partner in the Murphy, had considered putting a performing arts space in their building but dropped the idea once Caldwell’s plans for Pioneer were made known.
The most visible project in Fountain Square now is the recently started extension of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. The terminus of the Virginia Avenue spoke of the trail will be across the street from Pioneer.