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Local developer rescues 1913 apartment building from wrecking ball

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The Greek Revival apartment building at 3034 N. Pennsylvania St. had been boarded up, covered with vines and vacant more than a decade when it landed on Mayor Greg Ballard's list of nuisance and tax-delinquent properties slated for demolition.

pennsylvania The building at 3034 N. Pennsylvania St. is “teetering on the point of no return,” Indiana Landmarks’ Chad Lethig says. (Photo courtesy Woodland Realty)

That didn't sit well with some of the building's historic-minded Meridian Park neighbors, so they reached out to the historic preservation group Indiana Landmarks. The group agreed to pay the city $5,000 for the property, then sold it for the same price in late December to Indianapolis-based Woodland Realty, which has promised to restore the 1913 structure.

The roughly $500,000 project will stabilize the building known as the Esplanade Annex and prepare its nine one-bedroom apartment units for tenants, said Christopher Congdon, the project manager. The building is in rough shape, but Woodland hopes to save the few original windows that remain and some of the flooring.

"We're going to try and preserve the original look," Congdon said.

The building will be removed from the RebuildIndy demolition list once several code violations are remedied, including citations over its lack of windows and downspouts and holes in the roof, said Chad Lethig, the Indianapolis preservation coordinator for Indiana Landmarks.

Lethig said the building needs a new roof and completely new interior. Woodland also plans to tuck-point the building's exterior brick and refabricate missing metal cornice pieces for the facade.

The developers expect to apply for preservation-related tax credits and finish the work by fall 2012.

"It's literally teetering on the point of no return: It's going to take considerable resources to put Humpty Dumpty back together again," Lethig said. "We're very thankful it's in the hands of a responsible property owner now that will do the right thing. It's all about saving the building. That was first and foremost."

As part of the deal, Indiana Landmarks plans to add covenants to the deed that should keep it from ending up in such bad shape again.

The building is across Pennsylvania Street from the National Register-listed Esplanade Apartments, which sit between 30th Street and the spot where Pennsylvania and Talbott streets merge. (Carmer Watson Properties Inc. renovated and reopened the Esplanade in 2005.) The Esplanade Annex was built as a four-unit apartment, but an owner in the 1940s subidivided it into nine units, one of which is in the basement.

Both apartment buildings are just a block east of the Children's Museum of Indianapolis.

Indiana Landmarks has been working to save a handful of the structures the city has targeted for demolition. It also hopes to save a double immediately north of the Esplanade Annex. Woodland President Jeffrey Congdon may take on that project as well but for now is focused on the Esplanade Annex.

"Obviously you can't save all 2,000 of them," Lethig said. "But there are viable structures on this list that can be rehabbed relatively cheaply and put back into service."

In Woodland's most recent project, the company essentially built a new apartment building within the historic Sheldrake at 2258 N. Meridian St. The building leased up in just a few months.

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  • Kudos
    I'm so thrilled about this save! Indiana Landmarks and Woodland Realty are to be commended! Agree with Joan's comment as well.
  • We WIll Do the work
    I love what Woodland is doing and we would be more than happy to do the construction work.
  • More could be saved
    Kudos to Woodland for taking this on. If the city revived William Hudnut's Urban Homesteading program (offering houses for $1 to people who would live in and repair them)I bet we could save many more of these properties. Some deserve to go, but surprisingly many are worthy of preservation. Their loss will leave huge gaps and vacant lots in already struggling neighborhoods.
  • 34th & Carrollton
    There are 2 equally magnificent historic apmt bldgs at 34th & Carrollton/Guilford that need the same renovations, if they're going to be saved at all. Hope they can also find a savior.
  • Best of luck!
    Woodland is great for this opportunity!

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  1. If I were a developer I would be looking at the Fountain Square and Fletcher Place neighborhoods instead of Broad Ripple. I would avoid the dysfunctional BRVA with all of their headaches. It's like deciding between a Blackberry or an iPhone 5s smartphone. BR is greatly in need of updates. It has become stale and outdated. Whereas Fountain Square, Fletcher Place and Mass Ave have become the "new" Broad Ripples. Every time I see people on the strip in BR on the weekend I want to ask them, "How is it you are not familiar with Fountain Square or Mass Ave? You have choices and you choose BR?" Long vacant storefronts like the old Scholar's Inn Bake House and ZA, both on prominent corners, hurt the village's image. Many business on the strip could use updated facades. Cigarette butt covered sidewalks and graffiti covered walls don't help either. The whole strip just looks like it needs to be power washed. I know there is more to the BRV than the 700-1100 blocks of Broad Ripple Ave, but that is what people see when they think of BR. It will always be a nice place live, but is quickly becoming a not-so-nice place to visit.

  2. I sure hope so and would gladly join a law suit against them. They flat out rob people and their little punk scam artist telephone losers actually enjoy it. I would love to run into one of them some day!!

  3. Biggest scam ever!! Took 307 out of my bank ac count. Never received a single call! They prey on new small business and flat out rob them! Do not sign up with these thieves. I filed a complaint with the ftc. I suggest doing the same ic they robbed you too.

  4. Woohoo! We're #200!!! Absolutely disgusting. Bring on the congestion. Indianapolis NEEDS it.

  5. So Westfield invested about $30M in developing Grand Park and attendance to date is good enough that local hotel can't meet the demand. Carmel invested $180M in the Palladium - which generates zero hotel demand for its casino acts. Which Mayor made the better decision?

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