Local architecture firm moving HQ to former church

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The architecture firm A2SO4 plans to spend about $1 million to renovate a long-vacant former Catholic church near the Lockerbie neighborhood as its new headquarters.

The stately brick and limestone building, at the southwest corner of College Avenue and North Street, has been vacant at least 25 years. It was built in 1879 and served as the home of the St. Joseph Parish until 1949, according to the parish website.

The interior is in surprisingly good condition, with the exception of some damage from water that seeped in from the spot where the old steeple stood, said A2SO4 President Sanford E. Garner, who bought the building in 2002 with a partner, Mark Maryonovsky, intending to convert it into condos.  

church_REWThe church, which has been vacant for at least 25 years, will house 22 A2S04 employees after renovation.(IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

The condos never materialized, and Garner put the former church under contract to another developer in 2006, but that deal also deal fell through.

Garner now plans to use the building as headquarters for A2SO4, the architecture and design firm he founded in 2001. He hopes to start the renovation work by September and finish it by year's end. The firm's 22 employees would relocate from offices at Union Station.

The firm has about 9,000 square feet in Union Station. The former church has about 11,000 square feet, including 7,300 square feet with 28-foot ceilings on the first floor, and a 3,100-square-foot basement.

Garner is talking with the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission about the project, which shouldn't require extensive approvals since most of the work will be on the interior. New windows, gutters and downspouts, a new roof, and new ramps for handicap access will be added. And the exterior brick will be tuck pointed.

"I'm trying to keep as much of the interior as I possibly can, including eight old paintings on the ceilings and the walls," said Garner, 42. "It's a really neat space."

A2SO4 is the city's 10th-largest architectural firm, with $3.8 million in 2010 billings, according to an IBJ list published last month. The firm specializes in educational and commercial users, historic preservation and urban design.

Several real estate deals are in the works or have recently closed in the area surrounding the church.

A buyer is preparing to close on a three-story brick building behind the church that once was known as St. Joseph's Hall and housed the church's school. The would-be buyer, a partnership affiliated with local attorney Michele Jackson, also plans to acquire a small cottage and a vacant lot to the west.

And The Whitsett Group is working on a $27 million plan to build 190 apartments and more than 44,000 square feet of retail and office space on a parcel northwest of College Avenue and Michigan Street.

Whitsett also owns the 707 East North apartment building, which sits directly across the street from the former church.


  • Safety
    Maybe if cyclist would actually follow the same rules that cars have to obey, like they are supposed to, than there would be less of them hit.
  • parking and cycling
    Joe you are one brave young man. As an avid cyclist I can attest that most of our city is far too dangerous for cycle commuting. Recent increases in cycle related hit and runs do not bode well for cycle commuters. Be careful out there.
    • Possible
      I live downtown and work in the suburb. The very situation you described. I make it by bike and bus and I do just fine. Things could be a lot closer if parking lots didn't span our city. Parking is everywhere in the area and if only parking agreements were captured we could make full use of them. Instead, you guys make sure each individual use has its own parking lot and then some. I understand that parking is a common occurance now and it is difficult to imagine us without so much car use, but somewhere we have to start and someone has to say, this is truly a special place. A place that deserves recognition, not parking and mediocrity!
      • Parking
        Agree with Sandra. If/when parking is a final use of land it must be screened, landscaped and secured. In most cases it will be below-ground as the high value of land makes surface parking exhorbitantly expensive (and less than highest and best economic use).
      • Good Grief
        I agree with Jason. . . Joe, I take it you live downtown and don't drive a car. Bravo. Wish everyone could be like that however what if one chooses to live downtown and work in the burbs (Why, I don't know but for this conversation lets assume) What if you have a family and live downtown, you can't expect mom and dad to walk their kids to one of the many charter schools downtown every day including winter. It's just not practical. Indy is a great and NOT rural city, the fact that we require parking for projects creates a win-win as long as it's done right.

        In my business (Commercial Real Estate) I'm in my car more then my office. In the "Parking is evil" scenario it would make it unpractical for me to live downtown, I'm in and out of the office, etc. all day long. While my dreams of me scooting around downtown on my cute Vespa jetting from property to property seems very cool, it's just not practical, I'd either be sweating my arse off drenched in sweat or sliding around in the ice (not fun). I've seen some very cool parking solutions in other urban cities. The key is that the developer or buyer understands this and is willing to spend the extra money on tackling it the right way. Sometimes they simply don't have the extra money to initially spend but may plan to add or beef up the parking as a phase two improvement once they are up and running generating income.

        Don't hate the Playa hate the game. Just say'n. ;)
      • Short-sighted?
        Jason, you seem to be confused with how to define short-sighted. I'd say planning for a future which operates without the need for a car is looking well forward of plans that incorporate what occurs now because that's how it is. There are numerous places to "put" cars in downtown already. In fact, an aerial will show you just how much of this area is donated to parking cars. Not to mention the large play place they have been given that divides the near east side of the city from Lockerbie Square and DT. People may not rid themselves of a car to move to a place that dedicates places to store them for free, but associate a cost or remove those spaces all together and you get a change in lifestyle. I guess mediocrity and business as usual is as much as we can expect from rural guided Indianapolis.
        • Parking
          Parking consideration is essential in any development, urban or otherwise. The fact is that a great majority of people own vehicles and must have a place to put them. It would be short-sighted to think folks will get rid of their cars if they move downtown.
        • Wrong thought
          Parking is only an issue if it is made to be. You are lookign at development as car based, I look at it as the highest return on investment for the area. People in downtown can easily live without a car and be very successfull. This is the brand of a downtown, that development will be different and walkability is key. PArking is contrary to this idea.
        • Rock on! Awesome! Woo Hoo!
          I am thrilled about this and I totally can't wait to see the inside of the church. What an excellent adaptive reuse of this building. Ross, AWESOME job getting the former Hispanic Center sold to Michelle, she is a cool chick! It's a perfect space for her! Excited about what the Whitsett Group is doing on the corner of College and Michigan, I don't care what anyone says, this is awesome news!

          PS:: I'm sure there is some "unoffensive" way to incorporate parking somehow. Jeez, I mean, I get the whole urban neighborhood thing but parking is a key component of these projects. Without adding parking somewhere over there it would be a NIGHTMARE. They've got some serious thinkers on the case, I'm sure it will all pan out. I can't wait!!!
        • Pardon?
          Ross, I sure hope you aren't trying to pass these sites along as parking lots. There is no quicker way to destroy an urban neighborhood than with parking!
        • hot area
          I am pleased to be repping the seller of the St. Joseph Hall to new owner. We now have multiple parcels and bldgs for sale along Park Street at North within the Lockerbie historic district. Our sites are suitable for parking and redevelopment.
        • Great Adaptive Reuse
          Congratulations to A2SO4. This will be a great project and pump more energy into one of the greatest neighborhoods in the state. I hope they also do some site work to improve landscaping, but again great use and looking forward to the final product.
        • Hope They Have Tour
          I hope they plan a tour of the building once it is completed. I pass this old church all the time and am thrilled that it is now going to return to a useful property. Good Job A2SO4!!

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