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CityWay sells out first phase of apartments

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Buckingham Cos. has taken deposits for all 100 apartments in the first phase of its high-profile $155 million CityWay project at Delaware and South streets in downtown Indianapolis.

The first residents of the mixed-use, mid-rise development are scheduled to move Oct. 1 into two buildings with first-floor retail along Delaware Street. Three more residential buildings with a total of 150 apartments are scheduled for completion in the spring of 2013, and already Buckingham has taken reservations on 20 of those units.

The strong response to the project's apartment offerings have led the local developer to consider adding additional units on three acres it owns along Virginia Avenue for a future phase of CityWay, and atop a planned office building at the northeast corner of South and Alabama streets.

"It's clear to us there's a very strong demand for apartments," said Scott Travis, Buckingham's senior development executive. "If the demand is still sustained toward the middle of next summer, we will look at more units."

Travis said the company hasn't developed specific plans for how many more apartments it could add or how it would finance them. CityWay's apartment buildings surround a courtyard, pool, gardens and two large parking garages for residents. The development plans also call for a boutique hotel, offices and a YMCA branch.

Downtown's roughly 7,000 apartment units were 94.4-percent occupied in 2011, a 3-percent gain over 2010, according to data compiled by locally based Tikijian Associates. Buckingham owns six other downtown properties with "minimal" vacancies, Travis said.

The quick lease-up at CityWay is even more impressive considering the above-average rental rates. Units range in price from $975 for a one-bedroom to more than $3,000 for a three-bedroom, three-bath townhouse.

The downtown average for a one-bedroom, one-bath unit in 2011 was $758, and the average for a three-bed, three-bath was $1,788, Tikijian data shows.

Deputy Mayor Michael Huber said he's encouraged that a central premise behind CityWay—that downtown could support many more apartment units—has so far proven true.

"We're really encouraged by the strong demand," he said. "We interpret that as one sign this is a good investment by the city."

The city is acting as the project's bank by raising $86 million from the sale of municipal bonds to pay for most of the construction expenses. Local governments separately have contributed $15 million, mostly for infrastucture improvements.

By the time the first residents move in, work should be complete on a conversion of a stretch of Delaware Street between McCarty and Maryland streets to allow two-way traffic, giving what amounted to a five-lane highway a more pedestrian-friendly feel.

Also slated for completion by mid-September: A revamped South Street with parallel street parking, and more pedestrian-friendly raised intersections at Alabama and South streets and Delaware and South streets.

The plans for a YMCA as well as shops and restaurants within easy walking distance helped convince Amanda McDonald to rent a two-bed, two-bath unit at CityWay for $1,900 per month. The hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances and skyline view didn't hurt, either.

McDonald, who runs an Internet travel concierge business out of her home, eventually plans to move into a three-bedroom townhouse unit with a rooftop deck once Buckingham finishes the second phase of CityWay's apartments.

"I just knew I wanted to live there based on everything I had read and seen," said McDonald, 29. "I'm hoping all the retail and restaurants will be opening at about the same time."

Buckingham has inked or is finalizing retail deals for a fine-dining restaurant and a mixology bar for CityWay's The Alexander hotel, and for Qdoba, a pizza restaurant, and a frozen yogurt shop to take space on the first floor of the apartment buildings.

"The response so far has been amazing," said Becca Michel, Buckingham's director of community relations.

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  • I respectfully disagree
    This is an instance where reality looks better than the renders. The project isn't close to finished and it looks fantastic. This is exactly the type of project that downtown Indy needs to continue to pursue.
  • Reality
    Why do the rendering always look better than reality. Since this seems to be true on all downtown developments, the AUL block parking garage will look like a warehouse.
    • Tower Time
      I agree with everything said here. I think this more than justifies the need for a residential TOWER. When very new 4-5 story apartment gets gobbled up immediately I think it shows that larger projects can be justified. A 30+ story unit should start looking more and more enticing to developers.
    • Exactly....
      ... which begs the question : Why the heck is there STILL no solid redevlopment project for the MSA site? It's becoming quite ridiculous that probably the most high profile site in the entire city remains a collection of parking lots.
    • City leaders please take note
      94.4% occupancy is ludicrously high for any market anywhere. Downtown desperately needs more residential rentals.. and there's this big site on what was formerly Market Square Arena.. Another Riley Towers type development with a smattering of office and a big box urban Target would be phenomenally successful there. Imagine what all those young people would mean for the area.

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    1. Cramer agrees...says don't buy it and sell it if you own it! Their "pay to play" cost is this issue. As long as they charge customers, they never will attain the critical mass needed to be a successful on company...Jim Cramer quote.

    2. My responses to some of the comments would include the following: 1. Our offer which included the forgiveness of debt (this is an immediate forgiveness and is not "spread over many years")represents debt that due to a reduction of interest rates in the economy arguably represents consideration together with the cash component of our offer that exceeds the $2.1 million apparently offered by another party. 2. The previous $2.1 million cash offer that was turned down by the CRC would have netted the CRC substantially less than $2.1 million. As a result even in hindsight the CRC was wise in turning down that offer. 3. With regard to "concerned Carmelite's" discussion of the previous financing Pedcor gave up $16.5 million in City debt in addition to the conveyance of the garage (appraised at $13 million)in exchange for the $22.5 million cash and debt obligations. The local media never discussed the $16.5 million in debt that we gave up which would show that we gave $29.5 million in value for the $23.5 million. 4.Pedcor would have been much happier if Brian was still operating his Deli and only made this offer as we believe that we can redevelop the building into something that will be better for the City and City Center where both Pedcor the citizens of Carmel have a large investment. Bruce Cordingley, President, Pedcor

    3. I've been looking for news on Corner Bakery, too, but there doesn't seem to be any info out there. I prefer them over Panera and Paradise so can't wait to see where they'll be!

    4. WGN actually is two channels: 1. WGN Chicago, seen only in Chicago (and parts of Canada) - this station is one of the flagship CW affiliates. 2. WGN America - a nationwide cable channel that doesn't carry any CW programming, and doesn't have local affiliates. (In addition, as WGN is owned by Tribune, just like WTTV, WTTK, and WXIN, I can't imagine they would do anything to help WISH.) In Indianapolis, CW programming is already seen on WTTV 4 and WTTK 29, and when CBS takes over those stations' main channels, the CW will move to a sub channel, such as 4.2 or 4.3 and 29.2 or 29.3. TBS is only a cable channel these days and does not affiliate with local stations. WISH could move the MyNetwork affiliation from WNDY 23 to WISH 8, but I am beginning to think they may prefer to put together their own lineup of syndicated programming instead. While much of it would be "reruns" from broadcast or cable, that's pretty much what the MyNetwork does these days anyway. So since WISH has the choice, they may want to customize their lineup by choosing programs that they feel will garner better ratings in this market.

    5. The Pedcor debt is from the CRC paying ~$23M for the Pedcor's parking garage at City Center that is apprased at $13M. Why did we pay over the top money for a private businesses parking? What did we get out of it? Pedcor got free parking for their apartment and business tenants. Pedcor now gets another building for free that taxpayers have ~$3M tied up in. This is NOT a win win for taxpayers. It is just a win for Pedcor who contributes heavily to the Friends of Jim Brainard. The campaign reports are on the Hamilton County website. http://www2.hamiltoncounty.in.gov/publicdocs/Campaign%20Finance%20Images/defaultfiles.asp?ARG1=Campaign Finance Images&ARG2=/Brainard, Jim

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