Design of new downtown fire station to get first review

January 21, 2014

A city hearing examiner soon will be asked to sign off on the design of a new Indianapolis Fire Department downtown station that the department plans to build as part of a massive land swap.

The multi-step swap would make way for construction of a $43 million apartment and retail development on Massachusetts Avenue where IFD’s headquarters now stands.

It’s been in the works for nearly a year and was first reported by IBJ in March.

fire station no 7 rendering 15colCity staff has recommended approval of the fire station's design, pending details about lighting and windows. (Image via City of Indianapolis)

IFD would move its offices to the building occupied by the American Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis at 441 E. 10th Street. It would construct the fire station on the same property, which is about four blocks north of the existing IFD complex.

To make way for the fire department, the Red Cross would build a new headquarters at the former home of the Payton Wells car dealership at 1510 N. Meridian St. The dealership closed in 2007 and the building was demolished last January.

The Red Cross also demolished a two-story building to the south at 1440 N. Meridian St., the former home of WXIN-TV Channel 59, which moved to Intech Park on the northwest side in late 2003.

The final step would have a team of local developers—J.C. Hart Co., Schmidt Architects and Strongbox Commercial—construct a five-story project with about 235 apartments and 40,000 square feet of commercial space on the 1.45-acre Mass Ave site vacated by the fire department.

Meanwhile, plans for the new fire station filed with the city show a two-story, 22,825-square-foot building. The project, slated for the Red Cross' parking lot, eliminates a significant amount of unneeded parking, the filing says. Eighty-nine of the existing 138 spaces would remain.

The station would be built on the southwest corner of the property along Fort Wayne Avenue.

“It’s a public building that will be integrated into the neighborhood well, and also makes some significant opportunities along Massachusetts Avenue possible with the project that will go in its place,” said Adam Thies, director of the city’s Department of Metropolitan Development.

DMD staff is recommending approval of the project pending the submission of a lighting plan and more details about the building’s glass and windows, among other minor issues.

The station would be about 43 feet tall and rise to more than 60 feet at the top of the bell tower. The building would feature brick with limestone trim and would feature metal panels and sunshades, according to the filing.

Outdoor amenities include bike racks, a picnic area and a small basketball court.

The city’s Regional Center Hearing Examiner was to consider the design Thursday, but the city has asked for a continuance until February. Because the site is within the Regional Center overlay district, the project needs to comply with Regional Center Urban Design guidelines and requires initial approval by the city’s hearing examiner.

Axis Architecture + Interiors designed the fire station. Site work could begin in March.

Last month, IBJ reported that fire department credit union officials were set to sign off on a deal with the city to build a facility on a vacant parcel on the west side of College Avenue, just north of Massachusetts and adjacent to the fire department’s union hall.


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