Children's Museum selects developer for Winona site

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The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis announced Wednesday that it has selected The Whitsett Group LLC to redevelop and operate part of the former Winona Hospital site.

The neighboring museum is acting as lead developer for the site on North Meridian Street, which has been abandoned since the hospital closed in 2004.

The redevelopment is expected to include residential, commercial and public space.

“The Whitsett Group provides the most comprehensive plan that promises to enhance the development physically while offering sustainable options from a team of professionals who have expertise in finance, development, construction, management and architectural/engineering services,” museum CEO Jeffrey Patchen said in a prepared statement.

Whitsett is a local affordable housing developer that has five developments within five miles of the Winona site: Constitution Gardens Apartments, Stetson Senior Apartments, Mapleton Properties, 1010 Central Apartments and the 707 North Apartments.

Perhaps its largest development is the planned $22 million project that would include nearly 140 apartments and a retail component on the property where the demolished Keystone Towers stood.

Winona was demolished in October. Construction of the residential portion of the project likely will start by the end of the year.

The city took control of the hospital site in 2010 and wrote off about $1 million in tax bills. It requested proposals for redevelopment in February 2010, listing the property at $667,5000, but received no responses.


  • Starts with good managment
    It depends on the management of the property. As long as there are certain restrictions in place then a property that looks good now shouldn't be able to fall into disrepair in a couple of yrs. Simply give people rules to abide by if they don't they are evicted,no second chances when you knew the rules when you signed the lease.
  • My mistake
    MC Mike, I see my error was in thinking that this was about the project in any way. I seems you just have a problem with low-income people. Projects like these helped to lower the rate of homelessness in veterans by 12% just between 2010 and 2011. You paint with a very broad brush...
  • Thank you!
    Thanks for answering my question, "Professional": Clearly, you are being intentionally obtuse. Alleged "higher quality" construction vs. lower quality construction isn't the concern of these posters. Whether the quality of the buildings are classified as exceptional or not, with low-income tenants/non-owners, the quality will quickly evaporate. The original Keystone Towers are a good example - when built, the Towers were considered quite modern, efficient and attractive. That situation changed rapidly upon the arrival of Section 8 folk.
    • Read and comprehend
      MC Mike, there was absolutely a question of quality of both structure and inhabitant: "The Keystone Towers project looks like 1970s section 8 buildings", "cheap apartments are not the answer." My question to you would be: Where would you like to put our elderly, our disabled veterans, our mentally challenged? Where is a better place?
      • Cleanliness is next to godliness
        Industry Professional: I don’t know if you’re being intentionally obtuse, but the “detractors” herein don’t seem to be criticizing the quality of the construction, but rather the more important consideration of the quality of the tenants who will inhabit below-market (Section 8) developments.

        I do trust the Children’s Museum to maintain very high standards, so I’m not personally concerned about the development of the Winona site – I welcome it. But, I also think it’s more than fair to question the location of some of these developments that do in fact bring with them the myriad dysfunctional problems of their low-income/no-income residents.
      • Ignorance abounds
        To the detractors in this comment thread; Please inform yourself prior to passing judgment on projects like these. Having worked for private developers who construct both low-income and market-rate developments, I can say with absolute certainty that these projects you decry as "cheap" and "marginally better…" are in fact higher quality than most market-rate condominiums developed during the boom. These projects meet more stringent energy codes, tougher storm-water management criteria, accentuated accessibility requirements, product durability evaluations, etc., etc.… Take the product durability requirements. In order to get their tax credits, developers must clad their developments in a minimum of 50% brick or cement board. Both projects you are questioning are clad 100% in these materials. I wish the developer of this EIFS nightmare had been as responsible: http://www.3mass.com/. And the density question. These sites have zoning with minimum development criteria. Single family homes would violate those requirements. These locations properly demand density a thriving city requires. Suburban single-family developments are entirely inappropriate at the addresses in question. I could continue for pages about why these projects are good for the city, but I've prattled on enough already.
        • Childrens Museum
          I am not worried about the project. The last time I was in that area, it looked as if a large number of the homes in that area are being rehabilitated. Great news as there are some great period homes located close to the museum, and many out of state visitors will soon have an even better visual experience as they visit this asset.
        • Single Family Housing
          Developers should build single family housing occasionally. Continuing to build moderate apts. (translated section 8-low income)is not a good idea. With the Meadows there are tons of apartments (new) which will only continue to breed crime and dispair. The developers make money, but don't have to live near what they create. Homeowners who take care of their properties will see there values fall as trash, loitering, and vandalism (and worse) increase. I don't know what the solution to these problems are, but constructing cheap apartments are not the answer. The Keystone Tower Project is underway, so too late to stop it. Don't do the same on the Winona site. Help the homeowners who live near these areas. Build homes not low-income projects.
          • Unfortunate
            Unfortunate. The Keystone Towers project looks like 1970s section 8 buildings, an image only marginally better than the blighted towers they're replacing. Let's hope the Children's Museum sets some very high standards.

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