City targets east-side parcel for housing development

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The city is preparing to seek bids on a vacant parcel it owns along East Washington Street in an attempt to lure a multi-family development to the blighted area.

Before issuing requests for proposals, however, the city later this month plans to get the property rezoned under a high-density designation that allows up to 26 units per acre.

REW Mallory 15col The parcel is part of the P.R. Mallory industrial complex, now owned by not-for-profit Southeast Neighborhood Development. (IBJ Photo)

The undeveloped land that abuts Washington Street between South Parker Avenue and South Gray Street is part of the four-acre P.R. Mallory industrial complex. The centerpiece of the complex, a three-story, 125,000-square-foot brick structure that’s been vacant for decades, is owned by the not-for-profit Southeast Neighborhood Development and is not part of the city’s redevelopment plans. SEND has been working with neighborhood groups to try to convert the building into a job-skills training center, SEND President Darrell Unsworth said.

In the meantime, SEND and the city last year cleared the part of the site the city is preparing to seek bids on. They used federal grant money to demolish the former Crown Laundry dry cleaner and clean up contamination there..

Any development on the property likely will contain an affordable-housing component, residential real estate experts say, largely because of the area’s demographics. Nearly 30 percent of the population within a mile of the site has an annual household income under $15,000. Median income is $26,775, according to Cassidy Turley statistics.

Still, the property has potential, said Joe Whitsett, principal of locally based The Whitsett Group, which has been approached by a not-for-profit to partner on a deal to redevelop it.

“We’re certainly interested,” he said. “It’s a good location. You could do affordable housing and save some land for a future market-rate project.”

The Whitsett Group has several projects in the works or under construction, most notably the redevelopment of The Indianapolis Star building at 307 N. Pennsylvania St. Construction on the first phase of that project should start by November. Plans call for 500 units in three buildings, one of which will have retail space.

The Whitsett Group in recent years has completed several mixed- or low-income projects. In addition, two projects, Illinois Place on the former Winona Hospital site and The Point on Fall Creek, are under construction.

The city took ownership of the East Washington Street property earlier this year from SEND, which didn’t have the financial resources to mow the property and continue monitoring it for contamination, SEND's Unsworth said.

“Any kind of a substantial investment on that corner is going to be good because there’s not been any investment there,” he said. “It’s been overlooked for a while.”

Construction could be a few years out, however. The deadline is Nov. 1 to apply for tax credits with the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority to help finance low-income housing developments. Submitting an application next year would push construction to 2015.

“Unless the city has someone in their pocket right now, they’re going to miss the credit deadline,” said Amy Burmeister, a broker at Summit Realty Group.

Besides affordable housing, a senior-living community might make sense for the property as well, she said.

The site is about two miles from downtown.



  • P R Mallory
    What should probably go in locations like this should be a company either actually producing something or doing the R&D leading to same to get more decent paying jobs to replace ones like Mallory and RCA used to have on the East Side. Or any side of town for that matter.
  • 60,214 empty homes
    So for those who are not good with math. If no one in Indiana had their 19 year old son living in the basment, if no one had their grandma living in the guest bedroom, if no one was living with their girlfriend, if no one was coach surfing among their freinds, and if no one was homeless; if all those things were true, there woudl still be 60,214 vacant housing units in Marion County. It is way past time to stop wasting tax payer money enriching suburban contractors for building unneeded housing units.
  • Low income Housing
    Did no one learn anything from the Cabrini Green era of housing projects high density low income housing projects are bad for everyone involved except the developer who makes a tax subsidized mint building a segregationist ghetto. This style of development creates all of the characteristics of the urban sink that make neighborhoods uninhabitable. High density correlates to higher crime, all other variables held constant. Also this area has some of the highest unemployment in the county, why woudl someone want to put those struggeling to find their way out of poverty into an area where it is highly unnlikely that they will ever beable to find a job. Further, this area already has a number of taxpayer subsidized housing projects and an extreamly high number of section 8 and section 42 properties; if we keep craming all of the low income into one section of the city, wwe are surre to find that we have created a Favela/ghetto of the proportions to make even Brazil wonder what is wrong with us.
  • Really?!?!?!
    According to the US Census Bureau there were 417,800 housing units in Marion County in 2011. That same year census states that there were 357,586 households in Marion County. What does that mean? It means that there are so many extra housing units that no one can afford to repair their home becuase the cost of repairs will exceed the market value of the home they are trying to repair. So Really?!?!?! the City thinks that we should build more houses, thus further driving down the value of existing properties and making the revitalization of these neighborhoods more difficult? Really?!?! What kind of morons are runnning these programs?
  • Needs Market Rate
    I totally agree with Ben and Paul. It is a straight shot and less than 5 minutes to downtown at this location. The 3 story building should be converted to industrial loft apartments and market rate apartments built next to it. Downtown is being overrun with low-income apartments. Look at the old recycling center off south harding that was converted to industrial loft apartments. More "poverty" in that area also but they are fully rented.
  • Grocery-Randall Porter
    Kroger Twin Aire is 0.9 miles away. Pogue's Run Grocer is 1.1 miles away at 10th & Rural and easily accessible by IndyGo route 26 (7 minutes). Kroger at 10th & Linwood is 1.9 miles.
  • How stupid
    Try and get a good condo or apartment in Downtown INdy, its all rent controlled and public housing.The Braxton was built just for that purpose.How about the people who have jobs and want to live downtown, there is almost no place to live, its al for the government hand out market.If you have a god job and make a good living,dont try and get an apartment downtown.If you make more than $26,000 your screwed.
  • Ah food?
    And pray tell where will these people get food? There isn't a grocery store for miles. The city should be trying to get middle income families to RETURN to the near side.
  • Middle Class
    Do you really think middle class families want to move into poverty areas? They want to avoid them like the plague. You can't teach someone to be middle class, they either have to work harder to jump into a new social class or possess God given intelligence to jump a social class or two. Or the market will change and developers will want to buy and rehab the neighborhoods, forcing poverty to other areas.
  • Hilarious and true
    Paul Lamby's comment is both funny and accurate. Kudos.
  • Is it 1975?
    When will Indianapolis realize that building more subsidized low-income housing in neighborhoods that are overwhelmingly low-income is neither a recipe for revitalizing the neighborhood and attracting private investment nor is it the best way to improve the lives of low-income families? Low-income neighborhoods, with high levels of abandoned housing, substandard housing, poverty, and crime need to attract to middle and upper income residents in order to create a balanced, healthy, sustainable neighborhood. Low income families need to be immersed in the culture of stable neighborhoods with middle class families so that they will not be held down by the "culture of poverty" which lowers standards and expectations for many low income children. The City should be directing its subsidized low income housing into stable areas, even working cooperatively with surrounding communities to provide affordable housing options for service workers in places like Carmel, Fishers, Greenwood, etc. Sites like the PR Mallory site should be used first for sorely needed jobs, or secondly for market rate housing investment.

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