City taking redevelopment bids for key Mass Ave properties

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Indianapolis hopes to take a major step toward redeveloping a key site in the Mass Ave Cultural District by issuing a request for proposals for the property, city officials announced Tuesday morning.

The adjoining city-owned properties targeted for redevelopment are at 555 N. New Jersey St., the site of Indianapolis Fire Department administrative offices and Station No. 7, and at 501 N. New Jersey St., the location of Firefighters Credit Union.

The city is hoping to land a mixed-use development for the site. The three existing facilities would be relocated to nearby properties, Mayor Greg Ballard said.

“We are seeking a project that will not only strategically link the north and south ends of Mass Ave but will enhance the unique culture of this vibrant and growing district,” he said in a prepared statement.

A key factor in redeveloping the property will be the cost of relocating the IFD facilities. No minimum price has been set for the sites, but only proposals that are “cost-neutral” to public safety will be considered, the city said.

The city intends to move the IFD administrative offices to the historic IPS School No. 97 on the near-east side in partnership with the John H. Boner Community Center and the East 10th Street Civic Association. Indiana Landmarks once listed the school building as one of the most endangered landmarks in the state.

Alternate sites for the fire station still are under consideration. The site is expected to be within a half-mile of the current location, the city said.

The city in July began exploring the feasibility of redeveloping the Mass Ave property as part of a real estate overhaul led by Public Safety Director Frank Straub. The aim is to better connect police and fire services with the neighborhoods they serve, consolidate office space to save on lease expenses, and help spark revitalization in parts of the city that have been starved of investment.

An upshot for the city is that the prime New Jersey Street property could be sold to private developers, raising money for the city and potentially adding to the tax base.

The city hired the local office of real estate brokerage CB Richard Ellis to assess the sites and possible redevelopment options. Sealed bids must be submitted no later than 5 p.m. Nov. 21.

Bidding information is available here.


  • wow...
    some pretty unenlightened comments. Ignorance must truly bring bliss!
  • @ Simpleton Sammy
    Because I worked for several years and purchased my home, whereas they did not. There's no shame in that, and you won't make me feel guilty for it.
  • @ Simpleton Sammy
    The poor people were there LONG before this was an affluent part of town.

    No one is entitled, but if you want to gentrify a neighborhood you should at least respect the prior residents and uses of that area.

    Why do you feel so entitled to be able to force poor people out of their neighborhood?

    • @ Know What You Are Talking About
      Your logic is entertaining. Am I entitled to live on Rodeo Drive, even though I can't afford it? What about Park Avenue in NYC?

      It's not the government's job to make sure poor people can live wherever they want. They need to live somewhere, but why do you feel like they need a place in upscale areas? You can't have it all -- if you want to live in Lockerbie, Mass Ave, Carmel -- just like if you want to live in Beverley Hills or Manhattan -- get a job and earn it. If you want to take the cheap gov't housing, then you live where they tell you.
    • It's the concept, not just the people
      I've actually never had a bad experience with the tenants of the projects, but the simple fact is the building itself (1) breaks up Mass Ave, and (2) lowers property values simply by existing as government housing. That doesn't mean the tenants don't create problems; I just haven't seen them.

      Yes, poor people need to live somewhere, too. But they DO NOT need to live on high-value downtown property. Do the tenants of Barton Towers need to walk to their job at Baker & Daniels? No. They just need to walk to the grocery, and frankly, Marsh is a lousy grocery. These people would be better off somewhere else. Also, as residents of government housing, they are not entitled to the same house forever. They do not own the building, and the government can tell them at any time that this will be the last year of their lease.

      Downtown is a terrible place for the poor. The only thing in walking distance is office buildings, an overpriced and small grocery, and a bunch of restaurants they can't afford to eat at.

      The high-rise government building would be a great place for some GREEN SPACE in a neighborhood that desperately needs it.
    • Please stop bashing the brutalist architecture
      Sure it isn't the norm, but it is interesting. It is my favorite building downtown. Not everything has to be a glass tower to be esthetically pleasing.

      I like the Barton tower and respect the era that it was built. It will be around for a very long time, no matter who occupies it.
    • Wrong focus
      You guys need to calm down about being experts on the "type" of people that promote great development. The greatest cities in the world and the greatest neighborhoods allow for a true mix of incomes. Government housing from the 60's 70's and 80's was an attempt and a theory to just mass all these folks together to "fix a problem". There isn't a problem. Some people are perfectly comfortable living on lower incomes....this doesn't make them different or bad people. While I agree that the Tower is a hideous "brutalism" piece of architecture, it was an expirement. We know that it failed and it is not the way to go. Fall Creek Place is perhaps one of the best neighborhoods near downtown. Not because it is fenced off for millionaires, but because it integrates several different incomes and nationalities. Diversity breeds creativity and fosters growth, both socially and economically. I only hope Mass Ave can remain a unique portion of the city due to its diversity, not its segregation!
    • Agree with Lockerbie Resident
      I live on Mass Ave and you are 100% correct about the Barton Tower. Ballard's comment about people turning around when they reach that block of Mass Ave is 100% correct. People see a 25 story cement government housing building and assume that there is nothing more to see on the avenue. Relocating the firehouse and bank is a good start, but you will see some issues if they try to put market rate apartments across the street from this building.

      Residents of the area are very familiar with the few individuals who roam the streets of the area begging for money. I have no issues with those in need asking for money, but these people follow you as you are walking down the street. If you do not have any cash, they will ask for you to take them to Marsh and put some food on your credit card for them. There is also the gentleman that pretends to have a daughter with a broken down car and he just needs $20 for gas to go help her (he tried this story on me 5 times now).

      Let me make something completely clear, the vast majority of the residents in the section-8 housing units are good people and good neighbors. However, there are a handful of residents from this building that are hurting the entire neighborhood.

      I doubt we see anything done in the near future about this issue. It's much easier to build a large housing building like this than it is to tear it down. This is prime real estate, and the residents love the location. It will be difficult to do anything about this issue.
      • @ Lockerbie Resident
        There is a HUGE DIFFERENCE between low income and section 8. While I agree that the Barton tower would better serve the community as market rate or low to moderate income, there is a need for housing for all kinds of people.

        The new development will be low to moderate income meaning something like 30%-80% of Average Median Income (AMI). At the bottom that is getting close to poor, but it is not completely impoverished. At the top that is your average college graduate starting their career. All of the new development in the are are EXACTLY the people who want a quality grocery store.

        Further, your theory to "fix" the "problem" is just flat out wrong from a public planning perspective.

        If you segregate your "rich" "middle class" "working class" and "poor" into different areas you stifle economic mobility. The poor get neglected and the rich get more insulated and only do things that benefit the rich areas. If you have mixed income in a neighborhood, sure the rich contribute more than the poor but they would have done that in the rich only neighborhood anyway, the difference is the poor are not as neglected. Things as simple as crime reporting, street cleaning, reporting abandoned houses and cars all matter. With a few people that care enough to set a good example the people with less then have a reason to take [some/any]pride in their neighborhoods. Pushing the dust under the rug doesn't make your house clean. For a health city we need to find positive solutions that help EVERYONE to come up. Not just help some snob from lockerbie that thinks he/she is above people with less.

        Get off your high horse. The poor people aren't holding your neighborhood back, YOU ARE.
          I live one block away from this intersection, so believe me when I say the fire station is NOT what's holding this neighborhood back. Mass Ave and Lockerbie are good neighborhoods on the cusp of becoming great, but they can't do that until the SECTION 8 LOW-INCOME HOUSING is relocated.

          The fire station is an ASSET to this neighborhood--the fire fighters are great neighbors, and the fire station is not out-of-place along Massachusetts. The HIDEOUS, USSR-themed low-income government housing is a blight on the neighborhood and has kept property values down for too long.

          I'm also afraid of more low-income apartments coming into the neighborhood, as proposed for the development at College and Michigan. You can't expect Fresh Market to open an upscale grocery store if you're going to have low-income housing above it. Those tenants can't afford to buy organic groceries.

          Get some market-priced apartments in this area, please. It's just condos and luxury condos. Put something in the $900-1500/mo range in the neighborhood, along with more bars and restaurants, and A PARK.
        • Too political
          The previous post was not about past politics or Kennedy, it was only about the current state of the mayor's office.

          I agree that Ballard has put the future of our city second and his pals first. Where will we be in 20 years when we run out of his privatization dollars and don't have any revenue streams.

          He sold our future down the river for big government spending today on projects that cost a lot to maintain. Build better schools before you make the roads look pretty.
        • Ballard
          Oh cry me a River! Part of the reason that Bart Peterson was thrown out was for sweetheart deals and cronyism. Now he's working for his sweetheart - Lilly! Sorry but it happens on both sides. I'm sure that Kennedy (Kennedy? Guilt by association) would NEVER do such a thing. Eye roll and LOL.
        • I hope Ballard doesn't get to have a say in this redevelopment.
          I sure hope Ballard is gone when this site gets developed so that some smaller Indiana companies will be able to get involved. No more sweetheart deals! I would hate for this to get outsourced to some strip mall firm in Texas.

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