Milhaus to revise design for Mass Ave project

June 5, 2014
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Milhaus Development LLC will need to tweak its design for a five-story mixed-use development it's proposing at a prominent downtown intersection near the tip of Mass Ave.

                              747 College rendering 225pxPlans call for 42 apartment units, 8,000 square feet of retail and 57 parking spaces on what’s now a parking lot at the southeast corner of College Avenue and East St. Clair Street, where Massachusetts Avenue intersects the streets.

Milhaus presented its plans Wednesday to the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission, which encouraged the developer to seek a continuance and return next month with a revamped design.

Among the concerns: too much fiber cement and not enough masonry.

“This is an extremely important corner,” IHPC Chairman and Ratio Architects Inc. founder Bill Browne said. “I think it’s heading in the right direction, but it’s early.”

It's not uncommon for developers and IHPC to go back and forth a few times before coming to a concensus on design.

Jeremy Stephenson, Milhaus’ executive vice president of development, said his firm understands the significance of the intersection and wants the project to blend in with the surrounding neighborhood.

“We understand that it’s a prominent location,” he said. “I think from an overall design standpoint, what we’re trying to get across is a combination of a good base to the building and more contemporary architecture above. We think this is the type of project that needs to be at that location.”

The architect on the project is Indianapolis-based DkGr Architects.

Milhaus originally proposed a six-story, 72-unit building for the site. But IHPC staff recommended a design scaled to other residential buildings in the neighborhood, such as the Mill No. 9 condo project at 630 N. College Ave..

Mill No. 9 is just to the south of where Milhaus is eyeing yet another project. It wants to demolish a vacant structure at 720 N. College Ave., across the street from where its Circa apartments project is under construction. In its place, it wants to build a five-story apartment building with 32 units and up to 65 parking spaces.

Also on Wednesday, IHPC approved Milhaus’ request to rezone property at 602 E. 10th St. and 625 E. 11th St., where it plans to build between 60 and 90 condos in a roughly one-block area.

  • No more crap
    Will someone please stop Milhaus from building any more of their crappy apts downtown. Their buildings are cheap, unattractive and future dumps. Lets hold builders to a higher standard plssssss !!!
  • Milhaus Development
    I appreciate Milhaus Development taking the lead in developing apartments downtown, but it would be nice if they started building their projects with some architectural variety and materials that won't start deteriorating in a few years.
  • Cheap Material
    High rents. Cheap material. Higher margins. At least this is in an historic district, so there will be some design/material upgrade.
  • Completely agree with the others commenting!
    I live close to the Mozzo on Virginia Ave and watched that being constructed. Everything is framed, cheap, corners cut, and will need major repairs in no time. The city needs to raise the bar on what is being built. Their designs are some of the most bland and boring relative to some of the other developments in the area (eg the Deylen developments that will now be directly north and south of the Mozzo). Their timeline for a return is way too short to make anything that will last in the city. At least this is in a IHPC is involved. Everything they have built in Indy is uninspired and cheap. Indy can do much better!
    • I should have read this before posting...
      "At least this is in a IHPC is involved."- Should read...At least the IHPC is involved.
    • Shrug
      Mass Ave is overrated. The building is fine for that area.
    • Milhaus, you are killing me
      I have seen enough articles about downtown apt development to know now that Milhaus is crap. The rendering is just like every other apt they want/currently building. The rents are not justified based on the amenities and design. I hope to move downtown in the near future and I will be doing my best to avoid a Milhaus development.
    • Utilities
      Just wait until you rent of these developer apartments. Not only will you pay high rent, but you'll pay an arm and leg for your heating and cooling. There's no continuous insulation on these new buildings.
    • LOL
      I work for a competitor of Milhaus but can tell you with certainty that ALL of the previous commenters to this thread are seriously ill informed. The properties that Milhaus is developing are top notch in every way and offer amenities that no other residential developer is able to match, currently. They are a leader in incorporating green technology into their communities and actually make an attempt at ad adaptive reuse of existing structures when possible. Have any of you actually seen the INSIDE of one of their buildings? or, are you basing your opinions on your limited knowledge of what you deem to be "cheap and unattractive structures"? I don't get where all the haters are coming from in regards to a company that appears to have taken the lead in downtown residential development. SMH
    • Outhaus
      Milhaus is the worst of the worst when it comes to sub-par designs and materials. They are dragging down the market with their developments.
    • Seriouely, Ben?
      Rents not justified based on ameneties? Ben you need to take a visit to Artistry and then come back and try to validate that nonsense. The amenities they offer put EVERY other apartment community in this city to SHAME. Rooftop infinity pool with outdoor kitchen and bar area? CHECK. Not one but TWO health club quality fitness centers? CHECK. Bocce ball courts and resident gardening plots? In the heart of downtown? CHECK. Art gallery and complimentary coffee bar? CHECK.
      • Question
        If Milhaus is NOT the standard bearer of apartment development downtown, can one of you naysayers tell me who that WOULD be, exactly?
      • They be experts
        Marshall- they read PL every day and grouse on the comment board about developers and how backward Indy is. What more do they need to know about development?
      • Examples?
        To those who dislike the design: Can you offer some examples of mixed-use development that you do like?
      • Cool Architecture
        The Sanlitun North by LOT-EK in Central Beijing (google it) is interesting architecture, doable in the states, and would fit that spot perfectly. The only problem with it is that it doesn't look like a standard uninspired Indianapolis mixed use building. So no way we could manage to do it. We must have bland! Vanilla is what we crave and vanilla is what we shall get!!
      • Expert "G"
        Do you know why the new apartment construction is 3-5 story and stick-built? I do. Place all of the recent apartment construction side by side. Honestly, they look similar. Perhaps it's the result of an over-reliance on SketchUp? We deserve better design. Examples of downtown development in other cities:
      • Um, it's because it's cheap
        The answer to the question "Do you know why the new apartment construction is 3-5 story and stick-built?" is very very simple. This type of construction is cheap. It's about as cheap as you can legally construct a mixed use building under current building code in Indianapolis. Why is it all fiber cement? Because it's cheap. Why aren't the buildings better insulated, sound proofed, or covered in long lasting materials? Because it's cheaper not to do those things. Why does it all look largely the same? Because developers and construction crews build cheap buildings. Cheap buildings all look similar because labor is the most expensive part of a building. Ergo, if you standardize all of our details across all of your buildings then you minimize the labor involved. So yes, the answer is still "it's cheap." The worst part of this whole process is that somehow all of these developers have convinced city government that none of these buildings are actually cheap enough. They all ask for, and receive, handouts labelled as tax incentives or money for city amenities like parking garages (because we desperately need more of those) or dog parks (can't wait to see those $500,000 strips of grass with a fence). Until Indy runs out of empty lots and surface parking lots there will always be more cheap land to develop into 3-5 floor stick built mixed use projects. Current property values aren't high enough to demand anything better be built as infill so there really isn't anything to be done about it other than keep filling in the empty space with this boring vanilla cheapness and hope future demand creates a better market down the road.
      • Design examples
        George, many of the design links you offered are for high rise buildings. Those might not get approval in the Mass Ave district. Also, once you get beyond four stories, you need to use different, more expensive materials. That translates to higher rents that might not be affordable for the demographic that is attracted to moving downtown. I didn't check all of your links but some are condominiums, not apartments. It is easier to get financing for new apartment construction than it is for condo construction. Give apples to apples comparisons instead of apples to oranges and your criticism might be more valid.
      • RE: willow
        Willow hits the nail on the head with his/her comments. Builders build this way because they can get away with it. Would you spend the extra money if you didn't have to? That's why I don't blame Milhaus as much as I blame the city (although based upon recent changes to the Fire Station, etc, things seems to be getting slightly better.).
      • City Admin is pushing these
        The mayor's office is pushing the developers to do these boxy mod designs. They turn to their consultants (freinds) who have no knowledge of history or reference as to what city's around the world are pleasant to live in. (and no taste)
      • Design Examples
        @Willow - Exactly. Also, fire suppression requirements add additional expenses above a certain height. @Carol - a poster asked for examples of other designs. That's all the list is. I am well aware that IHPC would not approve most of these designs. This is an issue about downtown as a whole. Unfortunately, it's an apples to oranges comparison, because we don't have any oranges. All we have are apples. Although the new Market Square project is a good start.
      • cry me a river
        For all of you crying about the way these are built, they are trying to keep the rents to a marketable level. Yeah, you can do a lot more w/regards to construction, but that pushes the costs up, which pushes the rents up. I don't know about you, but i don't see a ton of people wanting to pay near 2k to live downtown. So yeah, maybe these apartments don't meet the readers of this blog's eye test, but the question is really do the projects costs allow the rents to be affordable for the market? If no, then you may have a beautiful albatross hanging around your neck...
        • Rents
          Rents are also a product of a developer's ROI horizon and not just the build quality.
        • Inside, not Amenities
          I don't think the real crux of peoples issues are the design of the building, maybe not even the amenities being put in to thebuildings because they are nice. Its that these are being put in at the expense of a lacking tru infrastructure in the building. When neighbors see these buildings daily being constructed, and we notice that they aren't putting insulation or soundproofing inbetween walls - its just drywall to drywall. That is the lack of quality that others are talking about as well. Sure it looks great, until you get 200 people living all around you and you hear the moaning and groaning from the room right next to you, or a dog barking three doors down because these windows and walls suck...
        • No More Crap
          Yes Caliboy, I have friends who live in both the Artistry and Mozo. all of them say they are crap. One is a top notch architect and is between homes and will be moving out soon. they can build quality at reasonable price. taking advantage of high demand is all it is. City needs to stop allowing this crap to be built by Milhaus and others.
        • Artistry Feedback
          Same developer here and in talking to my downtown Realtor he has heard from several different people complaints of "cheap construction". Know it looks cheap but now residents due too.

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