Developer details Penn Arts plan

March 11, 2008
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Chris PiazzaA 23-year-old entrepreneur plans to spend $3 million to transform the 82-unit Penn Arts apartment building at 16th and Pennsylvania streets into 45 upscale apartments, Tracy Donhardt reports in today's IBJ Real Estate Weekly. Chris Piazza also is planning to add a gym and sauna and will give the outside a new façade with old-style double doors and awnings. Locally based Halstead Architects is designing the units. Piazza bought the building from JAB Real Estate Investment Group LLC in January for $1.4 million. The Penn Arts is Piazza's seventh apartment building since launching his company, Reverie Estates, 18 months ago. Piazza, a 2005 graduate of the Indiana University Kelley School of Business at IUPUI, hopes to have an open house within five months. He also owns Village at Fall Creek, Monon Court and Essex Apartments. Piazza would not name his financial backer.
  • Sounds like a great plan, and depending on the reality of upscale, I may take a look since I live in the neighborhood.

    And thanks for ruining my day....I'm sitting at a desk and he's 23 and buying buildings!
  • Its the classic takes money to make money.
    Its either mom & dad's money, or mom & dad's friends' money. Must be nice...

    You have the world by the tail when you come from money.
    99% of the rest of us 20-somethings are just your servants and cube monkeys in this world.
  • Great idea, hope it works.. That corner needs new life.

    However, I sort of want to smack the look off that kid's face. :)
  • will give the outside a new façade
    What's wrong with the early 20th century facade? Its beautiful. The first floor isn't amazing but why not keep the facade of this old apartment building with its lovely cornice? It seems like a bad move to remove a beautiful old facade for something 'new'. Its not falling down and its in good condition. What is their motivation of redoing the facade? =/
    I'm glad to see more apartments, everyones all 'condos' this or 'condos' that.
  • Hey JohnC, it sounds like you have a serious case of class-envy. You should just worry about what you are doing instead of Piazza, who is obviously trying to make a difference. This is America, everyone has a chance to make and have money.
  • Sorry its Halstead, would rather it had been AXIS doing the design.
    But the money might be coming from Mrs. Halsteads parents.....
  • That building needs to be fumigated something fierce.
  • Piazza of Piazza fruits and vegetables?
  • (Cough!) (Cough!) ...Schouten's the anonymous donor.. (Cough, cough, cough!) Who said that?
  • JohnC, did you read the full article? It states that Chris worked on a boat and the captain thought he had a talent for real estate and told Chris he would be a financial backer for him to get into the apartment business. So unless that story is fabricated, he found his own way. I have to say, I'm sitting at my desk right now and I'm rather jealous (I'd jump on that opportunity if I ever had the chance!!! but I'm too chicken to take on the risks...a steady paycheck has always been nice)
  • God. I feel old.
  • Man, y'all are some haters!

    This is great news. Who cares where the money comes from. The guy's got ambition and connections, good for him.

    I agree with the facade concerns, although I doubt they're going to totally replace it. The article states that the IHPC approved the plans. I seriously doubt they would approve a complete overhaul. I imagine the most significant changes will be at street level.

    Sounds like another win for uptown.
  • Indyfan,

    There's plenty of reason to be suspicious.

    Piazza claims to be 23, yet also claims to be a 2005 alumni of Kelley School of Business. Did he start at IUPUI at age 16? What accounts for his graduation at age 20?

    The IU Alumni Association doesn't have him listed in their records as being a graduate. According to their records, the only Piazza who graduated in 2005 was female, and no Piazza with the first or middle name of Christoper (or Chris) has earned an IU degree.

    According to the article, the guy worked as a First Mate after graduation. An FCC permit is required to operate the radios on a vessel of that size, and no Piazza with the first or middle name of Chris or Christopher is listed in the FCC's database.

    I hope the investors have done their due diligence.
  • Whoa, dude. I started college at 17 and graduated at 21, and a good friend started at 16 and graduated at 19 after doing some summer classwork. And those were legit bachelor's degrees from a real university.
  • The IU Business School has an undergrad program. Very possible to graduate from there at 23 or younger. I know because I did.
  • John,

    I graduated with an Undergrad from Purdue in 2005, at age 23. Keep in mind, that's may of 2005, and he could very well have just turned 21 at that point. It sounds like someone is just a tad jealous.
  • Correction...i graduated at age 21...and am now 24.
  • I also hope they don't screw-up the facades. I don't always agree with IHPC's decisions. But I do think this effort at that location is good for the neighborhood. More importantly, I really like all your comments. I'm not in the mainstream of the developer world and I learn something everyday. You are an opinioned bunch. Keep it going.
  • I will graduate IUPUI at age 20, John.
  • josh (unvrsty07), we know all about your internet half-truths. Didn't you previously claim to be in law school?
  • I'm going to graduate law school... at 31...

    I bet his financial backer's name starts with a D and ends with addy
  • No, I will be entering law school in 2009, I missed the deadline for this year. I went to Chattanooga State Technical Community college Hamilton County Middle College High School. Look it up if you do not believe me. I graduated high school at age 16, and I will be in law school next year, thank you very very much.
  • Good thing you guys aren't detectives, because your research capabilities suck. Haha. IHPC wouldn't let any significant changes happen to that building, btw. Just be happy someone displaced the crack and hos that used to occupy the buildng -- well, I guess that depends on how you look at it.
  • Are we seriously beating up on a developer simply because he's young? I'm an architect, not a developer, but I think anyone with an idea, a willingness to take risks, and a WHOLE LOT of tenacity can put together a development deal, no matter how young they may be. Good for him for coming up with this project and pursuing it. I hope it works out - that building and location could change the essence of the entire neighborhood if it's done properly.

    I'd love to see some cool retail or a restaurant in the ground floor!
  • Hello all. I figured I'd drop in to clarify some things. Thank you for your interest in the redevelopment of Penn Arts. Here are my responses to some of your postings:

    Nick: I'd love for you to come by the office once we set up shop there. I'll also be inviting the neighbors to the grand opening celebration.

    JohnC: My investors are actually not my parents or friends of my parents. I now have partners in Oregon, Colorado, and California. I offer a good return and I have no problem finding people to invest in my company.

    Helen: Not to worry. The facade improvements take into consideration the historical integrity of the building. This is something that is very important to me. I am also keeping a lot of the interior historic details intact.

    Steve: Thanks for the support!

    CrossedWires: Halstead Architects is a great company and it's a pleasure working with them. In fact, I suggest them to other companies whenever the opportunity arises. And no, Halstead parents are not investors in my company, although if they are interested, I may be able to work something out :)

    rush4ever: My second uncle is the owner of Piazza Produce, although I have not seen him in years. I am not affiliated with the company.

    My Life in a Cube: Schouten is not involved with the property.

    indyfan: Thanks for the comments indyfan.

    Ablerock: The article misstated that IHPC approved the plans. They have approved my parking lot designs, while I'm still working on the plans for the exterior. As I said, I am going to keep everything as original as possible. The building is beautiful the way it is; it just needs a little work.

    John: Well hello John... My name is Chris Piazza and I am the person under your personal investigation :) No hard feelings though. I will clear things up for you. I graduated from Beech Grove High School at 17 in 2002. I graduated with my undergraduate from IUPUI at 20 in 2005. I completed my 4 year degree in 3 years by taking 19-22 credit hours each semester, as well as summer courses. I was able to pull of an average gpa 3.85, so that worked out decently. As far as the IU Alumni Association, look up Christopher Klinge. I recently changed my last name due to adopting my half brother and sister who are the most important people in my life. I wanted them and I to share names, especially my little brother. As far as the FCC permit; there is no requirement that I was made aware of when I was on the ocean, but you may be right. Also, I was on a foreign flagged vessel sailing through the Caribbean, so the FCC regulations may not apply there. Lastly John, if you're interested in investing and have over one million in liquid cash, shoot me an email!

    Steve: I’m sorry to disappoint you, but my “daddy” is not an investor in my company. I actually grew up in the Garfield Park area, and if you’re familiar, there’s not a lot of money around there. I have been working since I was 14, more for myself as I got older and older. I wrote my first business plan my junior year in high school. I’m not from money, but I’m looking forward to having the ability to make a positive difference in this world in the near future, with my money and my time.

    All the best,

    Christopher Piazza
  • Wow - gracious, driven, and a class act. Good luck to you, Christopher.
  • Thanks for stopping by, Christopher.
  • Wow... I'm just amazed at the jealousy of the posters in this thread. Here's a young man who is doing something positive in our community and all you people want to do is question and criticize him. Based on his response (my classier than most of you losers, btw) it sounds like he has a good head on his shoulders and will be a great success.

    I wish him the best of luck.
  • Chris - Congratulations on the new property and I wish you the best of luck.
  • Chris, best of luck.
  • Thanks for the comments guys. I'm really excited about the project and working hard to get it started. Here are my corrections to the article.

    CORRECTION on the fluorescent lighting comment:

    Compact fluorescent lighting will actually be used and required throughout the Penn Arts building, while the traditional fluorescent tube lighting will not be used, which currently lights the unrenovated hallways and offices.

    CORRECTION on the comment on IHPC:

    IHPC has only approved the parking lot plans for the Penn Arts renovations. Christopher Piazza is still working on the facade designs and will soon seek approval for those as well.

    CORRECTION about how the initial conversation went regarding the start of the company, an important and interesting part of the history of my company :

    It was when I was driving the yacht to St. Kitts, with the island dominating the horizon, when my friend and the owner of the boat asked me if I may be interested in partnering up with him on a real estate venture (he was looking to diversify). I told him yes. I went on to develop a business plan and decided to found the company. At this point, I have investors in Oregon, California, and Colorado. Even though I lost sleep considering whether or not to start this company at such an early age, I am thankful I have done so and I look forward to further expansion.

    All the best,

    Christopher Piazza
  • Chris - Best of luck to you on the Penn Arts project, as well as any future real estate projects that you undertake. Your entrepreneurial spirit is just what this city needs!

    My wife happens to have graduated from Beech Grove in 1999, as well as the Kelley School of Business at IUPUI in 2004. I'll have to see if she remembers you from back in the day. :)

    - Michael
  • good luck I hope it works out! :)
    Thanks for the info!
  • Chris, are you single?! :)
  • I would like to say I am extremely proud of the man my son has grown to be. He is extremely intellegent has been since birth. Family and friends who know him will agree.He has worked hard all his life starting with academics. He does not like me bringing up when he was young, but I am going to. Since the age of 11, Christopher has always said he is going to be successful.
    Actually when making this statement, there would always be comments following such as he will help his family . He promised my youngest sister a LeBaron convertible which should tell you how long ago he has had such ambition.
    Another quality that makes me extremely proud;
    Christopher is making a difference within communities.He has renovated quite a few of his properties already.Tenants and community residents are feeling a sense of self worth and a sense of hope as one of my Coworkers said, who has been a long time home owner in the Irvington area.
    I will close my blog with, you are already a success as a person, now you on your way to being a success in the business world
    Always Love,
    Your Mother

    Love Always,
  • I wish you the best, Christopher! Any thoughts about building a great apartment tower dowtown from the ground up? It seems that apartments are a solid investment these days...
  • Christopher - I love your witty responses to these people. Keep it up. Stay focused and best of luck to you.

  • Mommy had to stop by? You have got to be kidding me!
  • yet again that is not me who posted that. I honestly don't know why anyone would want to copy me. I think its fine that a parent wishes to express their joy and pride in their child. I will probably change my name soon due to this copy cat.
  • After further thought I don't like this plan whatsoever.
  • I think it is fine that the Mom posted--she is proud of her son, as is I would be of my child. Sounds like whoever posted the Mommy comment just may be jealous--possibly don't have the most successful children of her own, maybe?
  • Dang. Can we all get a group hug?
  • now yet again one wishes to copy me. This project is grand. Can't IBJ do something about this copy cat?!
  • These copy cats are really starting to ANNOY me!!!
  • If there really is a copycat, then Cory would know because he can see the emails... really it's just confusing me (having multiple comments from the same person that contradict eachother)
  • I am a mortgage broker who has worked with Chris Piazza in the past and was appalled at some of the negative responses that the article on Penn Arts Apartments has generated. I have been involved with two apartment projects that Chris has bought and completely remodeled. These apartments were dated (and in some cases run down) and had been neglected by their previous owners – they are now very nice properties, well occupied and have a positive effect on the surrounding neighborhood.

    Chris has the vision to take a neglected property and see its potential. Although he is young (chronologically) he has a good business sense and has surrounded himself with a staff of good people. I can tell you he is not related to his business partner (the primary equity provider) but his business partner is a well respected businessman who is very astute and saw an opportunity to generate a good return.

    Based on past experience, I would expect that Chris will do a good job with the rehab of the Penn Arts Apartments. His success is also a success for our city because he has brought new lives to these properties (and the surrounding neighborhood) that have been eyesores in the past.

    I wish him only the best!

  • You can tell the difference just by the posts. I hope IBJ does something about this or I shall change my name and writing to something less likely. Our writing and stuff is totally different. Opinions as well.
  • I'm glad to see Penn Arts is finally getting the attention it needs. It is such a dominating structure and it is crucial to the revitalization of the 16th Street corridor. I am especially happy to know it will remain an apartment building. It might actually make it's way off the drawing board. My hope is that the building will be truly mixed use with retail, and apartment prices ranging from affordable for most to high end as well. Now if Kroger could just get it's act together....
  • Chris what will be your stance regarding the high density of the gay population in that area...well you be gay friendly and sensitive?
  • Chris, give the fact there is a high density of people with alternative life styles living in that area...what is your stance on that? We all saw what happend on Mass Ave. after they upscaled that, the city tried at every turn to run them out. Can you believe G you can't say A in the IBJ Y without you post being filtered out?
  • I am really looking forward to seeing the finished product. It looks promising and its about time someone decided to do something cool on this highly visible corner. :)
  • SUPER CUDOS TO CHRIS! I LOVE YOUR RESPONSES! YOU TRULY HAVE A PASSION ABOUT WHAT YOU DO AND IT SHOWS.... Mann, people out there are so negative, and it truly because they don't know the meaning behind the human spirit, and you obviously do. I would love to finally work with someone of your caliber! SALUTE!

    btw... can you brief an update on Penn Arts? I have some real estate interests in the neighborhood! thanks! Pamela

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