Irvington scores Ossip, set for streetscape project

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Irvington retail trade area stands to get a big boost from two projects set to begin this fall: Ossip Optometry’s renovation of a historic building and a $2.9 million makeover of East Washington Street designed to make the business district a draw for pedestrians.

Ossip’s decision to locate its 15th area store in Irvington is expected to raise the retail profile of the historic, east-side neighborhood.

Ossip closed July 12 on the purchase of a freestanding building at 5606 E. Washington St. that housed an auto repair business until last year. The locally based eye-care chain will begin a complete rehab of the 3,800-square-foot structure this October and will occupy the space in the first quarter of next year.

The significance isn’t lost on those who have a stake in Irvington retail.

“To have a proven, successful local chain store move in there kind of validates the neighborhood,” said Bill Shank, who owns a 22,000-square-foot retail strip just east of the Ossip building.

“You could have rented it out to someone changing oil and brakes. I was scared to death that was going to happen. Ossip’s a classy operator,” said Shank, who bought the retail property three years ago. Shank’s tenants include Legend Classic Irvington Cafe, a restaurant that opened in 2003, and Jockamo Pizza, which opened in 2007.

Those independent restaurants and other local retailers that lease space from Shank will soon be joined by Black Acre Brewing Co., a small brewery and tasting room set to open by the end of the year in 2,200 square feet of space.

“Irvington has a nice sense of community,” said Justin Miller, one of five partners in Black Acre. Miller, 26, is starting the venture with his wife, a family friend and two law school classmates. Prompted by investors who are from the Irvington area, Miller said they’d been looking for a space there for about a year.

Among the properties they were drawn to was the 1892 building that Ossip just purchased. Ossip already had it under contract but had some obstacles to overcome before the recent closing.

Lack of access could have been a deal killer, said Jacque Haynes, a commercial broker with Cassidy Turley who represented Ossip. Layman Avenue, the residential street immediately west of the building, only runs south, meaning customers wouldn’t be able to turn north off of Washington to access the building’s 12 parking spaces.

“Layman being one way was detrimental to any retail development there,” said Haynes, who worked with community groups to build support for making Layman a two-way street. A proposal came before the City-County Council in April and was approved June 7.

Because Irvington is a city-designated historic district, Haynes also worked with the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission to get approval for exterior renovations to the building. Those will include a restored brick and wood façade, new windows and black awnings. The west wall has been reserved for a mural representative of Irvington.

Haynes, who had not previously done a deal in Irvington, said she learned a lot about the neighborhood in the process. She compared the dense, diverse trade area to Broad Ripple, Beech Grove and Speedway. “It has a faithful following,” she said.

Ossip’s decision to open in Irvington follows last year’s big score: George Thomas Florist moved from 10th Street and Shadeland Avenue into what had been an appliance store at 5609 E. Washington.

Next up is the multimillion-dollar Washington Corridor Streetscape Project, which will give Washington Street a new look from Emerson Avenue east almost to Arlington Avenue.  

The neighborhood raised $253,000 toward the $1.6 million first phase, which is set to begin in October. The money came from large donors, such as PNC Bank, The Indianapolis Foundation and Citizens Energy, and from individuals and neighborhood groups.

Those funds will be added to more than $1 million provided by the federal government as part of its effort to restore the historic National Road, which is called Washington Street in Marion County.

The first phase will cover five blocks between Irvington and Bolton avenues, the stretch where Ossip is locating. It will include a landscaped median, walkways, decorative lighting and benches. It should be finished next spring.

The $1.3 million second phase is funded and will run from Emerson to Irvington Avenue, said Amandula Henry, executive director of the Irvington Development Organization, a not-for-profit founded in 2002 to encourage redevelopment of the neighborhood.

Henry said Keep Indianapolis Beautiful is donating all plantings for the project’s first phase.



    I hope the mayoral contenders in Greenwood are paying attention to the development model Irvington is providing as Greenwood’s sleepy downtown is just ripe for a classic restore, take-aways
    ---Jocamos (got that one)
    ---Tear down eye sores (broken window theory)
    ---Street car line (or at least some sort of horse and buggy style free transport to the Greenwood Mall)
    ---Destination like Broad Ripple (but for families)
    ---Streetscape (if at a minimum highway medium greenscape work like US52 and South St. in Lafayette)
    ---Upscale vendors like Ossip that will attract folks with money to spend on other products and services nearby

    And lastly, build on the memories of long time residents.
  • Welcome!
    George Thomas Florist is super excited!Welcome to Irvington!
  • Lovin' me some Irvington
    SO nice to see this kind of progress for an area that is so deserving. When I was growing up there was a Bridal Store, Shoe Store, Hobby shop, Ice Crem Shop (Oh Linders, how I miss thee!) and much more along East Washington Street. We may never go back to the days of Regal's Market and Peachers Drugs & Shearers Pharmacy, but Jocamos has proved that we can have things that are "truly Irvington" once again. HURRAY!!
  • Awesome!
    Great news for my neighborhood. Now can we PLEASE tear down the Indy East?
    • Cool
      Now how aboit a streetcar line that runs from Downtown to Cumberland?
    • Great!
      I think this is a great project to get Irvington on track to becoming a popular destination like Broad Ripple. I'd like to see this intise other businesses & neighborhoods within Irvington to begin fixing everything up! Hopefully they will continue the streetscape project in the future to continue east almost to Shadeland Ave. where Irvington actually begins.
    • Go for it!
      Include bio retention gardens for drainage!!!!
    • $$$
      You know you've arrived when you get an Ossip. It's not your run-of-the-mill crowd that can afford their services and products.

    Post a comment to this story

    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. Aaron is my fav!

    2. Let's see... $25M construction cost, they get $7.5M back from federal taxpayers, they're exempt from business property tax and use tax so that's about $2.5M PER YEAR they don't have to pay, permitting fees are cut in half for such projects, IPL will give them $4K under an incentive program, and under IPL's VFIT they'll be selling the power to IPL at 20 cents / kwh, nearly triple what a gas plant gets, about $6M / year for the 150-acre combined farms, and all of which is passed on to IPL customers. No jobs will be created either other than an handful of installers for a few weeks. Now here's the fun part...the panels (from CHINA) only cost about $5M on Alibaba, so where's the rest of the $25M going? Are they marking up the price to drive up the federal rebate? Indy Airport Solar Partners II LLC is owned by local firms Johnson-Melloh Solutions and Telemon Corp. They'll gross $6M / year in triple-rate power revenue, get another $12M next year from taxpayers for this new farm, on top of the $12M they got from taxpayers this year for the first farm, and have only laid out about $10-12M in materials plus installation labor for both farms combined, and $500K / year in annual land lease for both farms (est.). Over 15 years, that's over $70M net profit on a $12M investment, all from our wallets. What a boondoggle. It's time to wise up and give Thorium Energy your serious consideration. See http://energyfromthorium.com to learn more.

    3. Markus, I don't think a $2 Billion dollar surplus qualifies as saying we are out of money. Privatization does work. The government should only do what private industry can't or won't. What is proven is that any time the government tries to do something it costs more, comes in late and usually is lower quality.

    4. Some of the licenses that were added during Daniels' administration, such as requiring waiter/waitresses to be licensed to serve alcohol, are simply a way to generate revenue. At $35/server every 3 years, the state is generating millions of dollars on the backs of people who really need/want to work.

    5. I always giggle when I read comments from people complaining that a market is "too saturated" with one thing or another. What does that even mean? If someone is able to open and sustain a new business, whether you think there is room enough for them or not, more power to them. Personally, I love visiting as many of the new local breweries as possible. You do realize that most of these establishments include a dining component and therefore are pretty similar to restaurants, right? When was the last time I heard someone say "You know, I think we have too many locally owned restaurants"? Um, never...