First stage of $85M downtown project up for approval

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The first stage of a major $85 million downtown project anchored by a Marsh grocery store is up for consideration by the city on Thursday.

Indianapolis’ Regional Center Hearing Examiner is set to hear a request by local developer Flaherty & Collins Properties to build a five-story parking garage at the northwest corner of New York and Illinois streets.

The project, announced in January, calls for 487 apartments, the Marsh grocery store, the parking garage and additional retail space on properties bounded by Michigan Street, Capitol Avenue, Vermont Street and Indiana Avenue.

Overall, the project would replace a block and a half of surface parking lots owned by locally based OneAmerica Financial Partners Inc., which uses them for employee parking.

To make way for the development—dubbed “Block 400”—the city would foot the roughly $13 million cost of building the 1,020-space parking garage for OneAmerica.

The garage, however, could be as large as six stories and 1,234 spaces, according to documents submitted to the city by Flaherty.

The parking structure would resemble the nearby OneAmerica Tower to the south and would be constructed of similar building materials, the developer’s plans said.

The garage would include a skywalk across New York Street to the tower and would be operated by OneAmerica.

The Marsh store would be built at the southwest corner of Michigan and Capitol . Also included in the project are two mixed-use buildings.

The project’s $85 million cost includes the city’s contribution from tax-increment financing district revenue.

Because the site is within the Regional Center overlay district, the project needs to comply with Regional Center Urban Design guidelines and requires initial approval by the city’s hearing examiner.

The project ultimately would need approval by the city’s Metropolitan Development Commission. MDC staff recommends approval of the parking garage as long as the developer satisfies a few conditions.

Before the Thursday hearing, staff said Flaherty needs to submit lighting and landscaping plans for the exterior of the building, and a plan for bicycle parking.
A ground breaking is scheduled for the summer.


  • Two Marshes?
    I continue to assert that if the benefit of having a second Marsh downtown is an important factor in having the City subsidize this project by building a parking garage, then there should be some agreement with Marsh that the existing Marsh store will be maintained for some significant length of time. If there is no such guarantee, then is it worthwhile for the City to subsidize this project? I don't see there being a market for two Marsh stores within six blocks of one another. At least if it were a competitor, it might be more feasible to have two grocery stores, since a new offering would likely bring some new shoppers. I would guess that Marsh is simply looking to upgrade to a larger store and that the current location will close shortly after the new one opens. Of course, Marsh isn't likely to come out and say that now though. Who would?
  • Joe, Joe, Joe,
    You make some good points, but I think with a lack of understanding and with a touch of cynicism ("bad projects and secret deals"?). Everyone needs to look at the overall value of this entire project. Yes, the taxes and jobs thing is overused when promoting a project, but it is what it is, and there is a lot more to it. This project, the entire thing as I understand it, has no tax incentives to the developer or OneAmerica. Thanks Pat for the link to CSO with the rendering of the garage. While not beautiful, it IS just a needed garage and nothing more. Trust me, if it makes sense economically for OA to put successful retail at sidewalk level, they will do so. Moreover, OA has a lot of surface parking to the north of their building for their employees. They are parting with a good deal of it now and need to replace that parking somehow for their employees. The economics of selling the surface parking likely didn't make sense for them unless a garage was built for their use. My guess is the developer was not willing or able to pay the price One America needed in order to make the building of a garage by OA economically feasible. Enter the City who wanted to see the entire development happen - a Marsh, apts, other retail, the elimination of a lot of surface parking, and yes, more jobs and more revenue. The project would not happen without OA's prime real estate. Also, I would guess that the payback period for the $13 million from the city is 6-8 years though increased property taxes alone generated from the entire development...certainly less than 10. Plus the city gets what it wants in terms of revenue and desired use of land, including, like it or not, parking - funny, but people do indeed need a place to park their car when commuting to work! Usually, in order for the city to do a little social engineering in property uses, it throws in tax abatements and so forth. Here, that is not the case to my knowledge. The improvements to the real estate add to the market value of the real estate, which then increases the assessed value of the real estate, which then increases the property taxes paid on the real estate. Abatements do not allow for this for sometimes a very long time. And by "improve", I am not talking aesthetics or do-gooder social engineering, but improvements like non-land "improvements", ie construction, on real estate. Surface parking is indeed considered an improvement that is needed, and is often a highest and best use of land, in many cases. Today, OA's land to the north is better suited for much more than that and probably has been for quite some time. I am sure they held it for as long as they did for good reason and in good stewardship of their land resources for the benefit of their policyholders - which is why they are in business like most people forget. Perhaps they had long range plans for another office tower, but the current and near-term office market would not warrant that. Again, a sale by OA gives them cash, bettering their financial condition, claims-paying ability, ratings, etc. They are a solid company, and we don't want or need another Conseco/CNO. One more thing, you mention Lucas Oil. Two entirely different projects built for entirely different reasons and under entirely different circumstances. You cannot compare the two because they are so different. I am indeed a free-market capitalist, yet agree that city gov't often needs to be involved in ways to see that developments do in fact get done and get done with a long term vision for the good of a city and community and not with only short-sighted goals of often short term financial gains at the expense of long term viability. Kudos to all who are behind this development.
  • Imitation is the best flattery
    It will be really nice having another parking garage across the street from the two already on Illinois's east side. And there is another huge one just north of Michigan. If we fill in the surface lot north of Vermont and tear down that ridiculously old fashioned Rink Building we can achieve something few other municipalities can boast of: a 3 full city block canyon of parking garages.

    Plus, if there is a building downtown that merits imitation it is the One America tower. I propose it be the standard for all future design. And I propose we change our city name to Dystopolis.
  • What would Carmel Do?
    Carmel would attach Disneyesque false colonnades, fake georgian windows with an over exaggerated dome all slathered in imitation plaster, painted to look like limestone :)
  • Rob......
    Rob, the arguement of jobs and taxes is flawed. This is tossed out to make bad projects and secret deals seem worth it. Remember Lucas Oil? I completely agree, COMPLETELY, that surface parking lots devastate a community and crush an urban edge, but the massive concrete wall isn't an improvement. The increase in cars only subsidizes the commuting pattern of the city and will now completely shut off Illinois for afternoon rush hours. The plans indicate a tiny portion for retail use, maybe the size of a LePeeps. For an ENTIRE CITY BLOCK. One America is not a good design. The building may be built well, but the aesthetics completely destroyed an entire block of downtown removing an original angle in Indiana Ave, and creating a lifeless use for a majority of the day. When the city foots the bill for something, it better be an improvement, this is not.
  • Conceptual drawing
    Here is a link to conceptual drawings on CSO's site. I'm concerned that the garage on Illinois looks like a blank facade with not ground floor retail.

  • interesting
    Half of these comments make no sense really; Carmel (rolls eyes; everyone has this high regard but honestly I think people in Carmel are blind) IUPUI- shouldn't receive any accolades for parking garages (location and design wise) Indianapolis with a deteriorating circle center mall doesn't need another complex with the hope of retailers to come, we don't need twenty more CVS's and Starbucks'; I can fly to New York City and find a couple dead blocks; they exist so what...Indianapolis needs an actual downtown population to achieve more...that 120 million pay raise Mr Simon wants; maybe he should re-invest it in downtown Indianapolis..he is sure investing the company funds in Boston...
  • poor wording

    Sorry for the confusion and poor wording on my part. There's no official indication that One America opposes retail.

    I was expressing my difficulty in imagining a reason for One America to oppose a more attractive mixed-use structure.
  • Disgusting
    Its disgusting the city is paying for this horrible parking garage. The design is terrible and there is barely any street level retail at all. "What would Carmel do?" is a fantastic question. They certainly would not allow this piece of crap to be built in their city center or arts district. I wonder who's pockets are getting lined with this project...
    • Staked layers!
      Look west to IUPUI or Wishard for parking lot visuals. Their recent garages are better than what was constructed on Illinois street. We think cheap looking garages are the way to fill empty lots. " WHAT WOULD CARMEL DO ?"
      • Retail
        Did I miss something? Where does it say One America is opposing first floor retail in the parking garage? I checked both stories but didn't see that anywhere.
        • Creating Another Dead Block
          The lack of street-level retail in this part of the Block 400 development is a huge oversight and somewhat perplexing given the high quality of recent city-backed developments downtown. This portion of an otherwise stellar development is going to have an extremely negative impact on the aesthetics, urban environment, walkability, and livability of the NW quad.

          I'm not sure why One America would oppose including retail. And I find it very hard to believe that the thousands of office workers literally footsteps away wouldn't be able to support new lunchtime destinations and other businesses along Illinois and Vermont. We've got to reconnect the disjointed segments of our blossoming downtown, not create yet another lifeless dead zone that no one wants to walk through. Sadly, that is exactly what this massive ugly single-use structure will accomplish.

          Why not follow the precedent set by the proposed garage in Broad Ripple and create an attractive mixed-use structure? Why does the city get it there but not downtown?
        • $13 mil
          If the property is improved, property taxes increase - more revenue. If AUL's employment grows, more income taxes - more revenue. If more people move and/or work downtown, it means more demand for goods and services, more employment, more taxes - more revenue, etc., etc. It's not just the city throwing money at big companies. There's much, much more. Yes, the project has private backing, but apparently not enough to make the deal work and therefore they don't have it covered. And while Marsh is a nice anchor, they are no credit tenant like a Kroger or somebody. And if the police department has a major shortfall, they need to reduce the force. This city has way too many policemen.
        • why a subsidy?
          I do not understand why the city is footing the 13 million cost of the garage. I would think the economics of the project would not need that very large subsidy.
          • Why is the city involved???
            OK, so if the project is backed (privately) and they already have an anchor (Marsh) for the location and have plans for almost 500 apartments, why is the city putting up 15% of the cost???? We apparently have 13M to spare??? I understand the urban development, but why not spend that on cleaning up the vacant/foreclosed homes and lots?Doesn't the police department have a major shortfall?? We don't need to "help our friends" out on this one, they have it covered. City needs to collect its fees for permits and taxes on the property and actually make some money on a building project not spend.........just sayin.....
          • And more importantly....
            OneAmerica should now have a lot of cash for acquisitions and growth! More employment for Indy.
          • Reply to Bad Design
            I've not seen the design of the garage, but OneAmerica has owned this property for a very long time. It has been probably the most under-utilized piece of downtown real estate also for a very long time. Surface parking is NOT the highest and best use. I can't blame them for wanting to cash out while getting the city to fund a parking garage for their employees and possibly tenants. I only wonder what took them so long! I would think that the City likely required restaurants/retail on the first level similar to what is across Illinois. The similar design only makes sense in keeping with the OneAmerica Tower's design including an Indiana limestone facade. That tower is one of the nicest, well-constructed office buildings in the city owned by and serving as HQ for a fine Indianapolis company. If a parking garage for $13 million is the city's only major expense in order to get the rest of the development of the Marsh, apts, etc., then I say well done. A win-win-win-win for OneAmerica, the city, the developer, and all of downtown's residents and workers.
            • Bad Design
              This garage will greatly impact an area very near the core of the city, and the design resembles 1970's brtualism architecture without much thought. The long stretch along Illinois will add to the row of parking garages that now clog this artery and make for a dead zone in pedestrian activity. It is unfortunate that the city continues to fund these private investments, and then demands little of their interaction with the street.

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              1. It is nice and all that the developer grew up here and lives here, but do you think a company that builds and rehabs cottage-style homes has the chops to develop $150 Million of office, retail, and residential? I'm guessing they will quickly be over their skis and begging the city for even more help... This project should occur organically and be developed by those that can handle the size and scope of something like this as several other posters have mentioned.

              2. It amazes me how people with apparently zero knowledge of free markets or capitalism feel the need to read and post on a business journal website. Perhaps the Daily Worker would suit your interests better. It's definitely more sympathetic to your pro government theft views. It's too bad the Star is so awful as I'm sure you would find a much better home there.

              3. In other cities, expensive new construction projects are announced by real estate developers. In Carmel, they are announced by the local mayor. I am so, so glad I don't live in Carmel's taxbase--did you see that Carmel, a small Midwest suburb, has $500 million in debt?? That's unreal! The mayor thinks he's playing with Lego sets and Monopoly money here! Let these projects develop organically without government/taxpayer backing! Also, from a design standpoint, the whole town of Carmel looks comical. Grand, French-style buildings and promenades, sitting next to tire yards. Who do you guys think you are? Just my POV as a recent transplant to Indy.

              4. GeorgeP, you mention "necessities". Where in the announcement did it say anything about basic essentials like groceries? None of the plans and "vision" have basic essentials listed and nothing has been built. Traffic WILL be a nightmare. There is no east/west road capacity. GeorgeP, you also post on www.carmelchatter.com and your posts have repeatedly been proven wrong. You seem to have a fair amount of inside knowledge. Do you work on the third floor of Carmel City Hal?

              5. I don't know about the commuter buses...but it's a huge joke to see these IndyGo buses with just one or two passengers. Absolutely a disgusting waste of TAXPAYER money. Get some cojones and stop funding them. These (all of them) council members work for you. FIRE THEM!