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City selects developers for Mass Ave project

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City officials have picked the apartment specialist J.C. Hart Co., retail developer Paul Kite Co. and architecture firm Schmidt Associates to redevelop a prime Mass Ave parcel currently occupied by the Indianapolis Fire Department.

The development team's plans call for four or five stories of apartments, first-floor retail space and underground parking on the 1.45-acre property bordered by Massachusetts Avenue, North New Jersey Street and East North Street.

The project will likely cost from $30 million to $50 million, industry sources said.

Mayor Greg Ballard is scheduled to join neighborhood leaders and development officials Thursday morning to announce the winning bidder and unveil renderings.

The city selected from among five bids developers submitted in November 2011. But progress on the project slowed to a crawl as controversy raged over an expansion of a downtown tax-increment-financing district to include the Mass Ave area. The City-County Council approved the expansion Oct. 1.

Still, construction likely won’t begin for another year or more since the city must first relocate the Indianapolis Fire Department headquarters, Fire Station No. 7 and the Firefighters Credit Union.

The fire headquarters is headed to the former School 97, next door to Arsenal Technical High School. The city has not finalized a location for the new fire station, industry sources said, though a leading site is the northwest corner of Michigan Street and College Avenue, where The Whitsett Group plans to build apartments and retail space.

The real estate brokerage CBRE, which has advised the city on the Mass Ave redevelopment, also has been scouting for sites for a parking garage to serve the Mass Ave corridor and the new project. It wasn't clear whether Thursday's announcement would include details about a new parking structure.

It also wasn't clear how city officials plan to structure an incentive package for the development team, though observers expect the mix would include TIF dollars to subsidize parking.

Marc Lotter, a spokesman for the Mayor's Office, declined to comment on the deal until after Thursday's press event.

J.C. Hart President John Hart and Schmidt Associates principal Wayne Schmidt did not return phone messages Wednesday afternoon.

In March, Schmidt told IBJ the team's proposed structure would “feel” like Mass Ave, but with a “contemporary bent." He declined to share renderings or a final cost, citing competitive reasons. His 100-person firm has its headquarters at Massachusetts Avenue and Vermont Street.

“We feel like we have a good, solid proposal,” Schmidt said at the time. “Our firm has been involved in the avenue through its entire rebirth. We look at Mass Ave as being our home.”

Another finalist bid, from Flaherty & Collins Properties and Insight Development Corp., proposed a project that would tie in with their $25 million development across the street, which includes a mix of market-rate and affordable apartments and retail space surrounding Barton Tower.

Other bidders included a joint effort by Milhaus Development and Shiel Sexton, and an offering by Monument Realty.

Visit IBJ.com and the Property Lines blog Thursday morning for updates and renderings.

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  • Titanic Sails Again
    This is not a cruise ship. It's more like a Casino in Vegas. I presume that IHPC will give this proposal close scrutiny and request some design constraint and a bit of contexturalism.
  • TOO MANY PEOPLE DOWNTOWN?
    I just still cannot get over that comment. And re- stuff about subsidizing the rich. Jeez, whatever. Urban redevelopment doesn't work as easily as suburban greenfield development. That's kind of why TIF districts were created.
  • Schmidt strikes again!
    Among the design community, Schmidt is widely regarded as one of the worst design architects in the city which is saying something considering that this city is not known for good local design architects. They have been responsible for some of the worst urban design projects (in terms of aesthetics) that I have seen in a major US city. In particular, I am referring to 3 Mass and the new Ivy Tech project at Illinois and Fall Creek. They are very well connected and are great at marketing. The folks that I've met from their seem like generally nice and well meaning professionals. They just have no style. This is another example of their lackluster work. I have to say that the renderings look much better than 3 Mass and the Ivy Tech Building, but I have no confidence in their ability to pull this off with the kind of elegance and sophistication that a building on this site deserves.
  • follow up
    I am focusing on the empirical data and whether we are doing our due diligence. Sunshine doesn't hurt and frankly would add to public support assuming the information is there. If it is there to support the project; terrific and way to go to advance our city!
  • Due diligence and data?
    Good luck Rebecca. I wholeheartedly applaud your statement. Too often when people question the financing, other people respond by saying that it's a great project that is needed, without ever addressing the public financing. They just want the project to happen, and they don't worry about how it's being paid for.
  • Really?
    Why is it that anytime there are improvements going on in Indianapolis to expand and grow the city does everyone complain their heads off, while at the same time wonder why Indy is stuck as a second even third tier city? Taxes aside, leadership is trying to advance this city, if you want to remain in the 1950's, go move outside the city where you can have your land and nobody to bother you. Not to mention there are not enough people living downtown, do you see all the empty buildings? Beautiful Georgia street empty besides when conventions are in town? All the buildings that are open and operating are all at full occupancy, there is a waiting list to live downtown, I had to wait 2 months after putting down a deposit for an available apartment, more housing is needed.
  • rational conversation needed
    Set aside the issue of aesthetics and whether downtown wants/needs this development; there continues a need for a rationale discourse about whether our city should be supporting these development projects with the use of TIF funds or other public means. Additionally, what efforts occurred to determine whether this project could have occurred with solely private investment? I drive by the parking garage under construction in BR and wonder why it couldn’t have been done without developer “sweeteners”. I am not looking for the emotional arguments for/against but instead the data/the due diligence that went into these decisions.
  • Giant Video Screen In Historic Neighborhood?
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the historic preservation folks object strongly when Emmis Communications planned to install a large, Times Square-style video screen on its building on the Circle and successfully blocked it? Will IHPC approve one for the historic Mass Ave neighborhood that it wouldn't approve for the Circle? The reporter for some reason refuses to note that the Lockerbie People's Club has already voted unanimously to oppose moving the fire station to Michigan and College Streets. The neighborhood was sold on one project by the developer as a bait, who later changed the plan without informing the neighborhood after reaching a backroom deal with the City, which involves some form of city funding for his project. The city has already told the developer it plans to make College a two-way street from Mass Ave to Market Street as part of its plan to move the fire house to that location. The City did not consult with its fire department on this plan, which is not at all happy with that choice as a new location for their fire station. IHPC, as I understand it, must still approve the fire station as part of the Lockerbie North project since it alters significantly the plan approved in the original certificate of appropriateness.
  • Well....
    .... I LOVE THIS! I especially find the idea of the giant electronic video screen very cool! As usual though, I continue to be confounded by some of the comments in this thread, lol. Too many people downtown? Subsidizing the rich? Where do you people come from?
  • Fire station relocation
    College & Michigan as the proposed fire station relocation??? That's the intersection of two one-way streets! I hope the fires are all to the north or west of the station!
  • Fire station not the problem
    Yeah, that stretch of Mass Ave is completely dead--but more because of the Section 8 tower than the fire station. Nobody wants to walk past the projects. That is what needed to be moved if you want to raise the cache of Mass Ave. Rodeo Drive doesn't have a housing project on it.
  • Really----too many people?
    MPA - are you kidding me. There is hardly enough people living downtown. Maybe your talking about visitors overall, but the downtown can handle more people. There is another grocery store opening up along the west side of the square mile as another option. The CityWay location on the Southeast I heard will have some neighborhood food options. We need some additional residents to get a good department store downtown.
  • Yeah Rah!
    Once again, the people of Indianapolis subsidize the rich. Typical of this city, we socialize risk, and privatize profit. This appears to be the American Way. No wonder the 1% flurish in hard times. Is this free enterprise?
  • IHPC vs. non-IHPC designs
    Kudos to the city for recognizing the fire station's location to be the problem it is (and doing something about it). I'm apprehensive only because Schmidt Associates was responsible for the design of 3Mass down the street. Quiet negotiations allowed that design to get built right before the IHPC assumed jurisdiction for that block. The new building's design should be substantially better.
  • Fantastic? It's called OPM - other people's money
    If this is such a hot area he will not need to give other peoples money away. This mayor has been bought and paid for. Such a banana republic he picks his winner buddies and rapes and pillages the average hardworking taxpayer, stiffs the police and fire department men and women and TOTALLY IGNORES MAINTAINING SUBURB INFRASTRUCTURE.
  • Fantastic! Keep up the Momentum!
    This is fantastic. That part of Mass Ave is a dead spot and moving out the Fire Department will add vibrancy and continue the momentum, to what is turning into a gem for the downtown--Mass Ave. IUPUI is growing and dont think there isnt a connection between Mass Ave and the university. The synergy is happening. It reminds me of the vibe you used to get down in Bloomington. Wonderful. Keep it up!
  • What is the city's effective leverage?
    So how much Taxpayer money is being GIVEN away by this Lunkhead Mayor? Giving money, dirt, demo costs, right of way, infrastructure, loan guarantees? HOW MUCH IN DEBT IS THE CITY Truely? Just like Carmel which has all that debt off it's books but will be paid for from Taxpayers.
  • Why?
    There are already too many people downtown. How crowded do we need it to be? There's only one grocery store and it is an expensive one, besides the Market. I thought we were supposed to be proud of our small town roots?
    • Great news.
      This is going to be a huge benefit for Indiana's leading pedestrian entertainment and shopping promenade.
    • Cruise Ship #2?
      Let's hope they don't design another cruise ship like the 3Mass project!

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