Construction begins on $16M downtown apartment project

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A long-abandoned historic building on North Capitol Avenue downtown is getting revived, thanks to a $16 million redevelopment featuring 111 apartment units.

The former Litho Press building—located across the street from the failed Di Rimini apartment complex—is receiving a total rehab from two local developers.

REW_800NCapitol_15col_ambrose_whitsettCrews have been working to remove concrete blocks from the windows of the 105-year-old building at 800 N. Capitol Ave. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

The Whitsett Group and Ambrose Property Group have started construction on the project, known simply as 800 North Capitol Apartments. Completion is expected by the end of the year.

Much of the activity so far is interior concrete and plumbing work. But what’s most visible is the removal of the concrete blocks that had sealed shut the massive window openings. When finished, the 105-year-old building will feature 150 industrial-designed windows to help maintain its original look.

The developers had to preserve much of the four-story, 130,000-square-foot building, including a walk-in safe and a large stairwell, to receive $2 million in tax credits from the National Park Service.

The project also qualified for $2 million in affordable-housing tax credits. Investors financed most of the remainder through a bond purchase. The Whitsett Group has $775,000 of equity in the project.

“We think there’s still an appetite [for downtown housing],” said Tony Knoble, a principal of The Whitsett Group. “Occupancy levels are really strong.”

Indeed, downtown apartment occupancy is hovering around 96 percent and should remain high even as more units become available this year, real estate experts say.

“What’s out there and available is leasing, so the market is still absorbing it nicely,” said George Tikijian of apartment brokerage firm Tikijian Associates. “We’ll see when the next group of units is delivered.”

The slew of forthcoming apartment projects include two other developments that Whitsett and Ambrose are teaming on. They’re rehabbing the American Building at 333 N. Pennsylvania St. into 72 units and plans to convert the 15-story Consolidated Building at 115 N. Pennsylvania St. into 98 apartments.

“With the close proximity to IUPUI and the Jaguar bus stop that is right there, we think the area is a good location for apartments,” said Patrick Chittenden, a vice president with Ambrose, of the 800 North Capitol project.

The developers are hopeful the project will attract a mix of students and young professionals. Forty percent of the units will be priced at affordable-housing levels because of the tax credits involved.

A landscaped interior courtyard and rooftop pool above the third level are among the amenities, Knoble said. Concrete floors, granite countertops and exposed stainless steel ducts will give the building an industrial feel.

The Whitsett Group purchased the building in December for $2.5 million from the Jack and Nancy Lacy Irrevocable Trust. The Indianapolis Repertory Theatre most recently used it for storage.

It originally housed offices and production for Kahn Tailoring Co., founded by Henry Kahn in 1886. The business operated a retail store at 2 W. Washington St. before moving across Meridian Street to the Kahn Building, 7 N. Meridian St., now known as the King Cole Building.

More than 2,000 dealers carried Kahn’s clothing by the late 1940s. The company merged with Globe Tailoring of Cincinnati in 1954, and by 1970, the Kahn name had faded from the local tailoring trade.

Litho Press moved into the building the same year Kahn’s merged with Globe Tailoring.

Locally based DkGr Architects is the designer for 800 North Capitol.


  • Wesley is correct
    I purchased my condo on Mass Ave ten years ago through an "affordable housing" program. I am (and was at the time of purchase) a white collar professional with a college degree. For ten years I have kept my money and business in the neighborhood, while at the same time moving up within my company to twice the income level at the time of purchase. Enough to now start looking for larger digs elsewhere. But FEAR NOT you affordable housing naysayers.....I plan on renting my condo for big bucks!
  • Solid Local Architect
    Good to see a local architecture firm executing some very good design work. Looking forward to seeing the final product. On another note - it's unfortunate to read all the negative comments. There are more appropriate forums for one to share their emotional issues.
  • Why all in center township?
    Why don't the City and State ask that some of these LIHTC projects be built in areas like Castleton, Meridian-Kessler, Geist, Carmel, Fishers, etc. where there is actually an undersupply of affordable housing and there is a need for lower wage workers to work in nearby businesses? Mixed income neighborhoods are good, and we should have them everywhere. We also shouldn't be pricing the middle class out of downtown and concentrating poverty in Center Township.
  • Downtown housing
    All the downtown housing is either for low income or high income residents. Young professionals like myself are priced out of the market. All these low income residents aren't going to do anything to stimulate the downtown economy if they need rent assistance. You're not going to see them shopping or dining on Mass Ave.
  • Relax
    Don't understand all the negative comments about LIHTC projects downtown. These projects are adding urban density, enabling a diverse mix of residents, and stimulating the local economy through construction and jobs and services for new residents. In my opinion it is a federal program that functions very well and achieves the desired result of providing a stock of decent and affordable rental housing.
  • All these "affordable housing" tax breaks
    Why are tax payers paying for prime real estate for those with low income?! We should not subsidize their rent so they can live in a posh new building. You should get what you pay for/can afford. They're popping up all over the city-- you're not entitled to a brand new apartment if you can't afford it! I'm sick of this.
  • Bigger problem than "affordable"
    My reservation would be the targeted "mix" of student housing with the others. I would much rather share a building with folks of less income, than deal with a bunch of students. Even to most serious student tends to want to party and blow off steam every so often. The loud music, drunken people staggering around, loud voices, drug use, and booze bottles left everywhere - THOSE are problems. I know - I live in Broad Ripple.
  • Well put
    Well said Wesley.
  • Wow...
    ... some of you people are clueless. This is a great project in an area full of potential. It is not, as suggested by some who apparently have no idea what they are talking about, a run down, crime ridden area. I am super excited to see more re-use projects like this downtown.
  • Affordable Housing
    Are you people really that ignorant on what affordable housing is? I guess you are considering many of the comments here. Affordable does not equal section 8. When you're talking about Downtown, affordable means someone making between $20,000 and $35,000 a year. It does not mean someone living on welfare checks. Maybe you should educate yourself before posting ignorant comments. Besides that, there are four large projects being built right now that all have 1 bedroom units renting in the $1000/month range. I don't see how this means that all of the projects going up Downtown are affordable. By the way, what's your solution to people who can't afford market rate apartments? Every study shows that crime increases when you put a large concentration of poor people into small areas. Would you rather just continue to segregate the poor like we have in the past (look at the east side) or would you rather try to improve the situation by getting those people out of their horrible environments and into an area where they can actually work to improve their lives? The ignorance by many posters on here is simply astounding to me.
  • Get over it
    What is so horrible about mixed income housing? Not everyone is born well-off and the idea that some parts of our city aren't welcome to all income levels is discouraging. To the young professional who can't live with others below their station, please continue to keep yourself isolated as your surprisingly antiquated perceptions I don't believe represent the community at large. With respect to comments on the area, I have lived on the northwest side of downtown for a number of years and find it to be very fulfilling. IUPUI, the canal, Central Library, new eating establishments and central downtown are all within easy walking distance. The specific area you are referencing isn't riddled with crime or vagrancy, but rather has a number of underutilized old industrial properties, this being one. Reusing a long vacant structure is great news and combined with the student apartments being built one block west on the canal and the Flaherty project three blocks south, this will bring more life and vitality to the area and hopefully more development. The more residents downtown the merrier; regardless of income levels.
  • A young professional's opinion
    There is already enough existing low-income housing in downtown. As a young professional currently living in DT Indy, it is almost impossible to find housing that I can afford. Rents are either too high for my budget or I make too much because it's for low income. Way to continue to price ideal downtown residents out of the area.
  • No More
    I am sick and tired of every apartment project in downtown being "affordable housing." Enough is enough.
  • Questionable
    This little area of downtown is questionable based on what I have seen in this area with abandoned bldgs, graffiti, homeless people, etc. Adding a mixed income complex to the mix is not going to help matters. I agree with an earlier post you need mixed income housing, especially downtown. But is this the best area for that? And what about the Di Rimi bldg across the street, when is that eyesore going to change?
  • Social disparity
    Take an economics class and find out what happens in an area with no mixed incomes. Who is going to pump your gas or fill your starbucks? Not to mention the festering that occurs when you have collected poverty - increases in overall crime rates, costs of policing areas, breakdown in infrastructure.
  • I agree
    Poor people are icky. Why can't we just put them all in one spot, not downtown, but not in the suburbs either. Maybe some sort of camp or something. That would make the bus routes so much simpler!
  • No more low income
    Great! More low-income housing is just what downtown needs to become vital and thriving! (sarcasm) As a young professional, I have no desire to live in a building that is 40% affordable housing.

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