Condos take shape atop building

January 7, 2008
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Residences at 429Construction has begun on a project that will add 18 condos and four penthouses to the top of a historic four-story office building at 429 N. Pennsylvania St. The project, dubbed The Residences at 429, is adding five additional floors to the 1920 building, which was built for Reserve Loan Life Insurance Co. and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Units will range from 1,100 to 4,000 square feet, and prices are $300,000 to $1.4 million. The developer is locally based Stenz Corp. Projects that add floors to existing buildings are rare in Indianapolis but common in larger cities. What do you think? Will these condos sell?
  • I think that they could do well. I am pleased that there seems to be more residential focusing around the War Memorial/American Legion Mall. Many cities would kill to have an urban green space like that and it seems that the Indianapolis developers are taking it for granted. More residential should be focused around the perimeter of the War Memorial. Why the 14-story apartment building at Vermont Street was leveled I will never know?
  • I've been watching these go up and I'll be interested in the final product. Are models/plans available anywhere online?
  • @Christopher,
    Check out their website: for renderings and info.

    These condos will have great views of the mall and the skyline. I think they should do well; there isn't any other project with similar views. As far as adding floors to an existing building, it's a great concept that developers could definately do more of on existing downtown structures. Overall: excellent project and I'm glad to see it's underway.
  • I'm banking on the fact that the condos won't be ready when they say they will, and that by that time, there will be so many other great deals that these prices will drop 10-20%. When that Happens....I'm THERE!
  • Just another very expensive housing unit that few in Indianapolis can afford to pay. I think it would be really great if there were some condos that are in the $100 to 200 K range only. I know this can be done, we are not in Boston, Chicago, or Miami! So while downtown land is expensive, and while the market downtown shows the reality of $300K and higher, it would be better if builders would be a bit more holistic with prices.
  • My question is that that the parking lot directly south has also been targeted for at least a midrise building--do you think that people will take that into consideration that their south view may be going in 5 yrs?
  • love the additional floors - i think they'll do well because of their proximity to the park. as stated earlier, it's an amenity that is taken for granted here and hopefully this will spark further considerations. would love if the former essex house lot would be developed into apartments with retail. i think the views gained from inside the new library addition could spur developers to consider more development in the university park area. side note: i specifically remember when the block building was renovated into condos they had gained a permit to have an additional 10 or so floors added sometime in the future if demand was warranted. does anyone else remember that? as always, great blog and looking forward to more renderings of pipeline projects!
  • Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf should be charged with RAPE and DESECRATION of a Historic structure. HOW can any Architect think THIS thing layer CAKE” “GLASS AND SLAB turd” looks good from any angle? The IHPC should be taken out back and beat about the head and neck. HARD!!!! This is building just to building, GREED FOR GREED. A CONDO FOR CONDO SAKE. If this is what is in store for the area around the Mall. If IHPC is going to let this “CHEAP LOOKING” “STANDARD FLORIDA CONSTITUTION APARTMENT SLAB UNIT” get built. Then gods help us and Indianapolis Architecture. THIS, THIS, POS is the ugliest “thing” I’ve have ever seen built. We can only wish and HOPE! The new building to the south is taller and will hide this ATROCITY IN ARCHITECTURE. THIS, GASH ON THE MALL. I for one petition the REMOVAL of this building from ALL HISTORIC DESIGNATION List. ASAP

  • i've seen two people mention that the lot to the south will be developed with a mid-rise building...i've obviously missed something - who/what/when/why...?? thanks!
  • I'm all for mor residential downtown but Is the market for downtown Condos that strong here in Indy? I guess I just question that everytime I read a new article about the newest condo additions to the city. Seems like the units that are out there have have been sitting on the market.
  • Cory, I think its time for a new facebook pic!
  • Bob, you are far too kind. This is by far the worst project in Indianapolis because what it does to an outstanding historic building. The Reserve Loan Life Insurance Company building was designed by Rubush & Hunter, who designed so many outstanding buildings in Indianapolis. Does Leo Stenz need the money? Why else would someone who claims to be a developer with a sense for preservation do this? Likewise, Browning Day also claims to have a sense for preservation. What whores they all must be now. What greed (yes, Bob, GREED does deserve to be all in cap's). I'm not sure the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission (IHPC) has any influence on this work. I don't think this site is within one of their districts and it is not listed individually. As far as I know, Stenz has not applied for historic rehabilitation tax credits, although you cannot get credits on an addition, there may be work in the old building. Probably not enough to qualify. However, I cannot imagine that the State Historic Preservation Office will not start action to remove the building from the National Register of Historic Places. This addition injures the historic character of the Rubush & Hunter building to the point that it would never be considered for listing today. Stenz is hyping the National Register in his web site. Stenz's family has been around Indianapolis for many years. I do expect better decisions from these long time members of our community. Maybe he expects this to be his last project before he moves to Florida or somewhere else, outside the criticism of the rest of us who want to live here.
  • Bob, you should really tell us how you feel about this, Ha! I still like the old appearance as an the old Lumberman's Insurance Co., it was a classic!....and Ryan, when they tore the old Essex House down (next door) they had only a limited (too many in my opinion) amount of years to leave it as a parking lot because it faced the mall. Now time has run out and no more extensions thank God! Anything acceptable could be developed there, but the condo thing is still hip!
  • Well, its better than them tearing it down, but I don't see why they didn't develope the parking lot next door instead of putting it ontop of the building. Isn't that something you do when there is no more space? 0_o The structure in my opinion won't be harmed as far as its value goes because they aren't altering the architecture or fittings, they are just putting a glass box ontop of an already flat structure. If the structure was something like second empire, federal, or italianate I think it would be a little bit more seriouse. If your going to do that, you should replicate the style of the building to match it, not put a modern box on it. Spend some money, your adding onto a gem, you better make it a gem! Still, there are many parking lots and historic structures in need of work downtown, this is a last resort to lack fo space, which Indy has too much of.
  • Bob: color me free is correct; this building is not within the jurisdiction of the IHPC. It is listed in the National Register; it is NOT locally designated. However, I have to agree with your assessment of the design. The terribly insensitive addition negates the horizontal emphasis of the building's historic design. I agree that it will probably have to be de-listed from the National Register after this horrible treatment.

    To address Helen's suggestion that Second Empire, Italianate, and Federal structures are somehow more signficant: there is a huge fanbase out there for more modern style! The styles you refer to were not appreciated during the 1960s urban renewal push when Indy lost countless gems. We need to start appreciating great architecture before they are lost forever.
  • kent - i'm with you and thanks for the info!
  • I look at all the downtown codos being developed aound downtown and I want to live in them all!
  • well I think that it wouldn't kill us to create classic gems aswell. Indianapolis has alot of historic architecture and a large stock of 19th century homes around downtown, but we should preserve our structures as they are a very important part of our culture. Honestly this isn't as bad as alot of things. I'd rather see a building placed ontop of it then it being torn down.
  • This is true. Atleast this ensures us that this building wont be torn down for another parking lot anytime soon. :)
  • I think the new addition is fine, though somewhat bland. The strong criticism against it is really absurd. The original building is well-constructed and sort of handsome, but it is absolutely nothing special. There are far more important and attractive older buildings downtown. Even looking at the original building in context with the American Legion Mall does little to boost its attractiveness or significance. It is a staid and squat little building which ORIGINALLY was designed to have 4 extra floors added to it, so the addition is not as inappropriate as some would suggest.
  • While I agree with Bob to an extent, is this worse than the atrocious addition to the Central Library? That thing makes me sick every time I see it.
  • I thought that Don Tharp was developing this over at Tharp Investments.

    Anyone know if they are still involved?
  • I consider this structure to be very handsome Chris. Though its nothing compared to the victorian mansions of the old north or the commercial buildings in the wholesale district, it still plays an important role in turn of the century architecture in our city. We should preserve it, though I do wish that the addition was a more early 20th century style going for it. It could have been a real gem, but they lost the chance. The new library was designed to keep all the attention to the cret building. Though I'm not a fan of modern architecture as it rarely lasts, the new library doesn't try to compare with the original gorgeous library. Hopefully this development will bring more restorations and infill to that part of downtown.
  • Chris wrote: The original building is well-constructed and sort of handsome, but it is absolutely nothing special.

    Okay, if you are correct, why is it listed in the National Register of Historic Places? Have you ever tried getting something listed? It isn't easy! The State Review Board is very discerning about their recommendations to the list. And I'm sure the members of that board who are trained in architecture and architectural history are pretty astute at determining whether or not it is something special. Just because you do not appreciate its value does not take away its significance.

    Unfortunately, this way of renovating older buildings seems to be becoming a trend: No, I'm not trying to say the two projects are equally bad, but it is disturbing that people trained in architecture would, as the author in the link writes, express contempt for the other buildings they must live among.
  • Actually, it is far too easy to get on the National Register if you ask me.

    I just clicked around the project web site and notice that it is the bigger units that have sold. There is a lot of talk about a lack of affordable condos downtown, but from what I've seen, it is always the high priced units that get snapped up while the lower end languishes. I suspect many of the higher priced units are merely pieds-à-terre, and thus the actual number of new downtown residents is probably less than the construction rate would indicate.
  • I'd be curious about the downtown market too. I ran across a site that lists projects 'on the schedule'. I've seen some info and events on some of them, but others remain a mystery as to whether they will go through.

    I see downtown condos at incredibly low prices all the time too. I'm not sure what the comment was about. Of course they don't have the best floor, best view, or whatever, but then who would think they would. They're affordable for a reason! And getting moreso everyday I might add.

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  1. What became of this project? Anyone know?

  2. Scott, could you post an enlarged photo of the exterior of the building? This will be a great addition to Walnut Street. This area will only continue to develop with additions like this. Also, please give us more updates on the "Cultural Trail light" expansion. Also a great move for the city, as long as there is maintenance money set aside.

  3. Great story IBJ! Citizens don't have a real sense of the financial magnitude of supporting Indy's sports and tourism sector. The CIB was a brilliant idea for creating a highly integrated public-private partnership to support this sector from the economic activity it generates. Unfortunately, most folks think the benefits of that economic activity accrue directly to the City budget, and it doesn't. So though the CIB is facing lean times (covering its costs while maintaining minimally acceptable reserves), the City is operating with deficit - less tax revenue than expenses each year - with a very fragile reserve balance. That's why it's so challenging for the City to fund basic needs or new intitatives (e.g. pre-k education; new jail), and some credit rating agencies have downgraded Indy from it's past stellar AAA status. More reporting on City finances would be welcomed.

  4. Sure, I'll admit that it bugs me to see that the IBJ.COM censors it's blog posts almost as much as the D of I does when someone points out the falsehoods and fabrications. _____But I think it bothers me almost as much that Captain/Defender/Disciple get his yanked too. You see, those of us with a sense of integrity, humanity, compassion, and a need for fact based opinion WANT to see all of his screeds posted. It makes our point so much better than we can do it ourselves.

  5. We're conflating two very different topics. Voter fraud is a myth and excessive gun violence is all too real. I just hope rational gunowners decide to stop being shouted down by the, well, let's call them "less rational" ones.