Developer launching rehab of vacant College Avenue retail building

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A long-vacant retail building a few blocks north of Massachusetts Avenue is about to undergo a major renovation and could be ready for occupancy in the spring.

Built in 1927, the 6,700-square-foot eyesore at 1101 N. College Ave. has sat empty since the early 1980s. But neighborhood developer Larry Jones, principal of Teagen Development Inc., believes the building is worth saving.

“This is one that I’ve driven by three times a week for 30 years,” he said. “It’s always been there; it finally became available.”

11th college photo jones REWThe 86-year-old eyesore at 1101 N. College Ave. has been vacant since the 1980s. (IBJ Photo/Scott Olson)

Jones agreed last year to buy the building from John Thompson, who had owned it since 2005. Thompson had applied to the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission for permission to demolish the building but withdrew the request when Jones stepped forward to buy it.

Jones declined to disclose the purchase price but told IBJ in October 2012 that he had agreed to pay "in the mid-five figures.”

IHPC has jurisdiction over buildings that fall within the city’s designated historic districts and typically disapproves of their demolition. The building at 11th Street and College Avenue is in the northeast corner of the Chatham Arch historic district and is just south of the Old Northside Historic District.

“It was always a building that I was hoping would be saved one of these days,” said David Baker, IHPC administrator.

Jones has built a career revitalizing urban retail properties. His company developed the Chatham Center, a building at Ninth and East streets with 9,100 square feet of retail space and 11 apartments. He also developed Lincoln Park Shops at 25th Street and Central Avenue and is a partner in the entity that bought and improved the Murphy Art Center, a 44,000-square-foot building at 1043 Virginia Ave in Fountain Square.

11th college photo jones REWThe developer hopes to fill the finished product with three retail tenants. (Image courtesy Blackline Studio)

Construction on his latest project is slated to start in December. Jones said he’ll spend about $600,000 to renovate the one-story structure whose collapsed roof has left much of the interior exposed to the elements.

The plan is to stabilize and restore the front and south facades and replace the east and most of the north concrete-block walls. The original clay-tile roof will be preserved along with masonry and the wood-and-glass storefront.

One of the biggest issues for the building has been a lack of parking. Modifications to the sidewalk along the dead-end spur of 11th Street should provide for nine spaces. Jones also has asked the city to rescind parking restrictions along the east side of College from 11th to the Interstate 65 overpass, giving the building a total of 31 dedicated spaces, Jones said.

That’s helping to attract interest from prospects. Jones hopes to fill the space with three tenants and already has a letter of intent from a small neighborhood market to occupy 2,700 square feet of the space.

The market will offer restaurant-quality prepared entrees to go, he said, and will have a limited amount of counter and exterior patio space available for on-site dining. Other tenants could be service providers such as a dry cleaner or a real estate or insurance agent, Jones said.

He plans to charge $16 a square foot, a rate cheaper than what’s commanded on Massachusetts Avenue, where foot traffic is more abundant. Still, Jones thinks the building has potential.

“It’s got good traffic and good visibility,” he said.

He’s named it Ovid and Calvin Commons in a nod to the original owners of the property, law partners Ovid Butler and Calvin Fletcher. Butler is best known for founding Butler University.

He had planned to start a college on the site but later established North Western Christian University in 1855 a few blocks north at 13th Street and College. The university took Butler’s name in 1875 and moved to Irvington. It’s been at its present location, at Sunset Avenue and West 46th Street, since 1928.

Jones’ building at 11th and College originally housed the Great A&P Tea Co., a barbershop, a shoe repair business and a laundry. Over the years, it also housed restaurants and a delicatessen.

“I’m delighted that somebody is trying to tackle it and make something out of it,” said Sally Spiers, president of the Chatham Arch Neighborhood Association.
Blackline Studio is the architect on the project.


  • Storm damage
    Demolition of all but the front and south walls had already taken place. Unfortunately, the storms that rolled through knocked half of it down. Not good news for the developer in wanting to preserve and restore the building's facade. I assume the entire thing will be torn down now?
  • Great!
    I lived in the apartments across the street for four years, and I always wished someone would save that building. As a Butler Grad, it's awesome to hear ole Ovid used to own it. How interesting! I think with the amount of residential in that area the right retail could prosper, though something will need to be done with the intersection of 11th and College to make it a bit more pedestrian friendly.
  • Grandview
    I thought it was on Grandview….10 minutes away….
  • Wonderful News!
    I used to live in the apartments across the street and this really is a little gem of a building. I'm so happy it is being saved and expanding potential economic growth along College Ave.
  • Retail?
    I hope it succeeds since I live close. Retail might seem a challenge. I always thought a few small apartments with walled courtyards in front might work. Make entrances front rear if possible.
  • Excited
    I drive by this every day noticing the unique details on the facade. I'm glad someone is willing to invest in the future to save an old neat building. I am hopeful for some nice useful tenants.

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  1. why oh why does this state continue to elect these people....do you wonder how much was graft out of the 3.8 billion?

  2. i too think this is a great idea. I think the vision and need is there as well. But also agree with Wendy that there may be better location in our city to fulfill this vision and help grow the sports of hockey and figure skating in Indy. Also to help further develop other parts of the city that seem often forgotten. Any of the other 6 townships out side of the three northernmost could benefit greatly from a facility and a vision like this. For a vision that sounds philanthropic, the location is appears more about the money. Would really like to see it elsewhere, but still wish the development the best of luck, as we can always use more ice in the city. As for the Ice growth when they return, if schedules can be coordinated with the Fuel, what could be better than to have high level hockey available to go see every weekend of the season? Good luck with the development and the return of the Ice.

  3. How many parking spaces do they have at Ironworks? Will residents have reserved spaces or will they have to troll for a space among the people that are there at Ruth Chris & Sangiovese?

  4. You do not get speeding ticket first time you speed and this is not first time Mr.Page has speed. One act should not define a man and this one act won't. He got off with a slap on the wrist. I agree with judge no person was injured by his actions. The state was robbed of money by paying too much rent for a building and that money could have been used for social services. The Page family maybe "generous" with their money but for most part all of it is dirty money that he obtained for sources that are not on the upright. Page is the kind of lawyer that gives lawyers a bad name. He paid off this judge like he has many other tine and walked away. Does he still have his license. I believe so. Hire him to get you confiscated drug money back. He will. It will cost you.

  5. I remain amazed at the level of expertise of the average Internet Television Executive. Obviously they have all the answers and know the business inside and out.