Brokers revise plan for key lots

March 23, 2009
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Washington Street renderingThe owners of two vacant buildings and a fenced lot along Washington Street downtown aren’t giving up on redevelopment even after their plans for a $40-million mixed-use structure fell apart, IBJ reported in its print edition. A group called Uptown Realty Investors led by brokers John Demaree and Bill Ehret is talking with potential restaurant tenants to anchor a new project that likely also would include apartments or office space. The plan involves the McQuat Building at 14 E. Washington St., the H&H Mart Building at 10 E. Washington St., and a vacant lot next door to the west. The brokers began acquiring pieces of the property about a decade ago, when they bought the first two buildings, both since demolished. For the last two years the pair had been working on plans to build a new, 10-story structure with a partner they declined to name. That deal fell through earlier this year, and now the owners are hoping to land a tenant so they can redevelop the blighted stretch in time for Super Bowl festivities in 2012. The most likely scenario is a renovated McQuat building and low-rise retail or restaurant space on the vacant lot and H&H Mart parcel (Concept shown here). For the full story, pick up a copy of IBJ at your friendly neighborhood retailer.
  • I applaud their efforts to reuse the McQuat building but what's the rush to fill in that gap? Developing a property for the sake of a 2-week event is not a very wise long-term investment. Why don't they focus their efforts (and whatever funding they can scrape up) on doing a first-class refurb of the McQuat and wait until the market can support a more appropriate reuse of the other lots.
  • In answer to the question about what's the rush to fill in the gap -- I've worked in a building next to this area for close to 15 years. It is an unsightly blight on our beautiful downtown area. Glass from the windows is always falling out of the buildings, which is very dangerous for anyone walking below. There's always trash and card boxes, cigarette butts and sometimes discarded clothes left in front of the buildings. It seems like this area has been neglected for way too long and should have been dealt with long before now!
  • Yeah, no offense Corr, but I almost gagged when I saw the word rush.... WAAAYYY too long for these properties to sit in their present condition.
  • I should clarify and say that I'd prefer that they not rush to develop those lots *as proposed in this scaled-down plan*. It's not that I don't want them to develop this land in general. I don't want to see those properties with weak three story structures just because the market won't give them enough money right now and they want something there for the Super Bowl. If this is really about capturing some of the Super Bowl lightning, they could do something as cheap and non-permanent as landscaping a little, plopping down a party tent with heaters and renting it out during those weeks.
  • I knew what you were talking about Corr, and I agree. A quickly-built low rise is not what that lot calls for. But I'm very excited about stabilizing and remodeling the McQuat building
  • I'm glad to hear that thu McQuat building could be properly refurbished.
    It is a nice old school structure.
    I wonder though, what color would they paint it?
    As for the empty space, this seems strange.
    It is such an odd gap, like a missing tooth. Filling it in with a small structure just doesn't seem right.
    I agree with CorrN to some level. I'd rather have a clean empty lot that could be properly filled in later than a quick built structure that doesn't belong on this part of Washington.
  • Also, the low-rise is so dull.
    So plain, why don't they spruce it up a bit? Add some decorations or at least a more interesting cornice.
    It looks cheap.
  • I think a nice little pocket park would be great as a temporary solution for the vacant lot as the other properties are redeveloped. If the ground floor retail plans for the buildings include a restaraunt, perhaps a portion of the pocket park could be used for al fresco dining.
  • Just curious, did you publish a story on McDonald's closing in the Hyatt? Any information? Were they forced out by the hotel renovation? Does'nt look like they were going to reopen when I last walked by.
  • I agree a small little plaza in the mean time. Maybe the new Restaraunt Anchor could have the outdoor seating. Isn't there a minimum requirement of height on a building in the downtown urban core?

    If not there should be. No one should be building a brand new minimum 2-story building right in the heart of downtown indianapolis next to two taller buildings. Something should be zoned to include that restriction.
  • My sentiments exactly Cory. This could be a great place for a tent party for one of the big spenders coming in for the Super Bowl. Easy access where they could do valet parking. Party goers could walk the Circle get to the stadium and hotels as well as visit everything else that is around this space. In the meantime the owners could make some money from leasing out the lot and take their time to get a more appropriate development for this prime real estate. Even if a small park were to be put there it would still be a nice space for a tent party in 2012.
  • There is no way in hell that 2-3 story structure should be allowed to be built along Washington Street, just a stones throw from the Circle.

    When I was still with the City (back in 2004) I met with people trying pull a development off at this site (probably the same group, I can't remember) and at that time they were considering underground parking and a structure the same height as McQuat.

    I agree with the other comments, either make it out-door seating for a restaurant, or don't build at all. Or, at a MINUMUM, design the low-rise to sustain the weight of a much taller structure once the need arises.
  • A low rise building on the vacant lot is a bad idea, and I hope the city rejects this. Previous suggestions involved renovating the McQuat appropriately, and using the lot for a park or plaza space until demand and financing is available for a taller structure. I agree.

    I sympathize with the developers attempting to make this project profitable even if just for the short-term; however, its proven that great cities build for the longterm. Suburan development styles do poorly in the urban core of cities. In fact I don't understand how a 2 story building would be capable of paying for the land - they must have gotten a bargain. This has the potential for BW3s downtown all over again.
  • is Mc D's looking at this site?? thats what I'm hearing.
  • I totally agree that there should not be a two or three story building at this location. Infill is wonderful but the scale needs to match the adjacent building. This block has needed attention over the last 10 years. Washington St. infrastructure also needs help. Sidewalks, railings, plantings, light fixtures all need to be upgraded. The sidewalks need to be power washed. Nasty
  • Maybe Borders can sublease to Crate and Barrel. What a great place for a downtown location.
  • It is great that the plan seems to keep the old buildings. I think that it is very important to save these to help us remember what the old downtown used to look like. If they are able to build something taller on that site it would be wonderful. That space would be fantastic for architecture that utilizes the smaller space and lack of side windows; however, the lack of windows would not be an issue if it was taller than the McQuat Building! Plus since they control all the structures there could be rooftop gardens and balconies for the residents and possible restaurant users.

    Though it is a bit hard to comment on the cheapness or the ultimate design of this project. This is obviously a tester design and only an elevation. Hopefully Cory will be able to use his city pull to be able to secure some better drawings!
  • Sacrificing quality for expediency
    While most would no doubt like to see a better use for the site, how much longer can the developers be expected to sit on the property and pay taxes on it before they wait for a good market cycle to begin? Will banks be willing to finance a 6+ story project which is more money and presumably higher risk of slow absorption? This may be another example of the sluggish economy putting the kibbosh on good urban design principles. Hope I'm wrong.

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