City gives OK for $60M apartment building on canal

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Plans for a $60 million multi-story apartment building along the Central Canal in downtown Indianapolis can proceed after the developer finally won approval Wednesday afternoon from a city commission.

Investment Property Advisors of Valparaiso originally proposed to build an $83 million, 26-story tower designed for college students but encountered resistance from neighbors over its height and impact on traffic in the area.

It agreed to reduce the height of the building to 10 stories and the number of apartment units in the building from 485 to 319. The number of parking spaces also would shrink, from 434 to 278, within a three-level garage instead of the originally proposed six levels.

Members of the Metropolitan Development Commission approved the design of the building by a 6-1 vote, with Dorothy Jones casting the lone dissent. Lena Hackett recused herself from the vote, and Diana Hamilton was absent.

Developers Larry Gough and Chase Sorrick of Investment Property Advisors said they plan to seek construction bids in the fall, with a hopeful completion date of 2014.

“We felt pretty confident going in to today,” Gough said. “You can never please everybody, but we fully intend to work with our neighbors.”

Two of those, the nearby Gardens of Canal Court apartment complex and the Canal Walk Lofts building, voiced the loudest objections.

Attorneys for the building owners argued that Ninth Street, the only road providing access to the proposed project, cannot support the additional traffic.

Tim Ochs of Ice Miller LLP, representing Gardens of Canal Court owner The Sexton Cos., further argued that the 10-story building will block residents’ downtown view.

“If you had a business, would you put it next to a private dorm of this size?” Ochs asked commission members. “We think it’s questionable.”

The project received a favorable recommendation from MDC staff.

Commission members agreed to continue a vote on the project in March after MDC Director Maury Plambeck said his staff needed more time to review modifications to reduce the size to 10 stories.

The project will be built on two adjoining parcels along Ninth Street between Senate Avenue and the canal: a 1.2-acre property that includes the offices and warehouse of B.B. Kirkbride Bible Co., and a 0.26-acre canal-front sliver of land that the city in August agreed to sell to the developer. Kirkbride is set to leave its property.


  • Typical
    Every time a tall building is proposed in Indianapolis, it gets reduced in height when the final deal goes through. Hoosiers have an aversion to tall buildings because Hoosiers are small-town cornfield folk who hate big anything, they are not progressive, and they hate anything bold. Hoosiers are just dull. Always have been, are, and always will be.
  • Past
    All you evoke the lores of yesteryear for this canal are crazy. Of course it was pie in the ski, it will look like venice vision, because they had to sell you. You know why it NEVER would have come to that, because the City, nor one developer owned the land around the canal. It was mostly private, at least the parcels we were hoping for the development.

    Someone mentioned maybe this will spur more development along the canal. You do realize this is one of the last parcels of land left. Good luck convincing one of the apartment complexes along it to tear down and build again. Not gonna happen.

    This is a good dense project to help start filling out the western edge of the downtown and can help spur infill in the gaps in between the core of downtown. I too would love something nicer, but we have to start with feet on the ground, and this will be a good step. (pun intended)
  • Do You Have Several Million Lying Around?
    IndyObserver, just to repair a few steps on the Canal and replace a small stretch of sidewalk cost the city about $500,000. To turn the Canal into a destination that evokes Venice would cost several millions of dollars.

    There is no private developer who is going to gift such a project to the city, and the city does not have the funds to pay for it. Remember, this is the same city that still has several crummy roads, neglected parks, ancient sewers, etc.

    If you want Venice, then you should book a flight to Italy.

    The Canal is an attractive city asset that is well-used. I agree the city could encourage more retail and restaurants, but that will come with time (though, I do not ever expect the Canal will rival San Antonio's River Walk).
  • They Reduced The Size Because The City Told Them To Do IT
    PJ, the height reduction was not value-engineering, and you are using the term incorrectly. Value-engineering is a methodical review of a project's design compared to its function to determine if it can be revised so as to still meet the intended project goals, but at a lower cost. For example, removing unnecessary building flourishes that to the building cost but serve a purely aesthetic purpose may be an example of value-engineering.

    Cutting a building in half, absent some sudden change of circumstances (e.g. if a key tenant suddenly pulls out of a commercial project) is not value-engineering.

    In this case, the city staff clearly told the developers they would not approve the project at 26 stories under any circumstances. So, to win city approval, the developer agreed to reduce the size of the building which won the city's endorsement and made it almost certain the MDC would approve the project.
  • Canal shame
    Some enterprising reporter (Scott Olson?) should check out the original plans for the canal revitalization, and how it was planned as a unique and inviting urban feature that would draw people in. Instead, it's like a walled hole in the ground, with only a few access points into the walls and buildings that line it.
  • Yes to IndyObserver
    IndyObserver asked the right question, but a suburban jogging trail is what we have ended up with for now. Nightlife, bars, resturants, shops, clubs, vendors, art, cafes...that was all the original ideas that got the canal orignailly funded and built, along with reallocated Federal Transportation funds. Once Hudnut was gone, suburban economic development mentalities took over, and what we have had since is a jogging trial. Maybe the increased student population will demand more and get it?
  • Angry Neighbors or Value Engineering?
    Did they really reduce the size because of concerns raised by the neighbors or was this really a $23 million value engineering effort?
    • I do agree, but
      I do agree students are consumers, just frustrated that the canal has so much potential and its not being utilized. The Cosmo had Left Bank...that closed probably within a year. I don't care for the design either, however I do hope this spurs canal development.
    • Students are consumers too...
      I'm not a huge fan of the design of this building, but it has nothing to do with "dorms on the canal." Young people are happy to live in urban environments, and they create a consumer base for restaurants, bars, and retail just like anyone else would. Cities have young people in them, and Indy will be much better off by having some young blood circulating downtown.
      • Canal's original concept
        What happened to the original idea that the Canal would evoke Venice (Italy, not California)with red tile-roofed buildings scaling up in size from the current concrete terminus at Buggs Temple to Ohio Street building heights to preserve those downtown skyline views? Nothing comes close to that concept today. More smoke and mirrors. But what do you expect from a design (for the Canal itself) that won the prestigious award from the CONCRETE industry? Certainly not like the award for the Riverwalk Promenade, like the Canal, another original concept stemming from White River State Park's Master Plan. The rest never saw the light of day.
      • Great...10 Stories of ugliness
        Well done, so we can have stucco on "suburban buildings" and convention center look alikes all across downtown, well done to sticking to the "conservative" way of thinking. The idea of development is good, but "dorms on the canal" not so much. I've never seen the canal's identity in such disarray. So much for creativity mixing Convention Center entrance and the Riley hospital expansion...

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