Proposed Meijer store would displace historic homes

Scott Olson
April 25, 2013
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The retail chain Meijer hopes to build a store north of downtown near 16th and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. streets as part of a mixed-use project by Opus Development Corp. But the plan is raising concerns of historic preservation advocates.

The store would anchor a project that would take about 2.4 acres the developer hopes to buy from the city. Minnesota-based Opus has offered to pay $600,000 for the vacant piece of land and has until the end of the year to seal the deal by purchasing a series of homes in an adjoining neighborhood, before a city-imposed deadline.

The city is not offering any tax abatements or other incentives to entice a sale, said John Bartholomew, a spokesman for the city's Department of Metropolitan Dvelopment. The city had sought bids for the vacant property and accepted the one from Opus.

Opus is trying to purchase dozens of homes in the nearby Flanner House district, with plans to raze the homes to make way for its project. But convincing the residents to sell their homes could be difficult. Bartholomew said the city also will not impose eminent domain to assist the developer.

Another hurdle: The neighborhood landed Thursday on the historic preservation group Indiana Landmarks' annual "10 Most Endangered" list due to the threat of redevelopment. The organization said 35 of the 181 homes in the neighborhood could be razed as part of the Meijer project.

Calls to officials at Opus and Meijer were not immediately returned Thursday morning.

Homes in the Flanner neighborhood were built between 1950 and 1959 through an unusual cooperative aiding African-American families that couldn’t secure conventional mortgages. More than half the houses still are owned by the builders or their descendents, Indiana Landmarks said.

At the southern end of the neighborhood, the vacant Phillips Temple, built in 1924, also is in danger of being demolished and also landed on the Indiana Landmarks list. Indianapolis Public Schools, which owns the structure, wants to demolish it for parking.

The city selected Opus’ bid over one submitted by Indianapolis-based Douglas Realty Group, which offered to buy the property at the minimum bid price of $497,250. Douglas Reality said in its proposal that its contract to purchase the Clear Channel property that borders 16th Street would “ensure proper, adequate and acceptable access to and from the major thoroughfares.”




  • Latest News?
    Any news on this project?
  • Mixed use?
    If it's "mixed-use", I'm guessing that will consist of a fast-Mexican restaurant, a yogurt shop, and a pizza delivery place, not housing.
  • Meijer Urban
    Meijer has started openning urban designed stores that are half the size of a normal store with set back parking (they have openned two in Chicago). Meijer even mentioned Indianapolis was one of their top target markets for this new design. With Opus invovled, I expect this will be a mixed use deveopment not just a Meijer. Probably a Meijer on the ground floor with apartments above (maybe student housing). And this really isn't that bad of area, tt is right between 16 Tech and IU Health so I can see why this development would target this location with all the redevelopment going on. Hopefully everything will fall into place and this will help the overall area thrive.
  • Why Not Elsewhere?
    If Meijer wants to tear stuff down, move to the shopping center at 52nd and Keystone. That place has seen better days, and has a lot of unused real estate. (I would take a Meijer over a Marsh "hometown" market any day!)
  • Oceanic Parking Lot
    Love those gigantic Meijer parking lots. Very pedestrian friendly. Exactly what the core needs more of. Can't wait. Yay.
  • Really? This location?
    Downtown needs a consumable shopping option such as Target or Meijer that could serve this neighborhood AND the rest of downtown residents and workers. I really think it would be a huge success in this setting. Putting in the hood where only hood rats will shop will turn this into Lafayette Square's gangsta cousin....No downtown resident will even slightly consider shopping here unless they're packin!
  • You're not trying!!!!!!
    No tax Abatements??? Perhaps if the plan is rethunk to include a cricket field.....?? If not, call the state economic development folks. They always seem to have money sitting around.
  • It's cool here
    Phillips Temple - vacant and abandoned. Neighborhood - vacant and abandoned. Most of Indy - vacant and abandoned. Average Indy Resident - This is the coolest city this side of Flint.
  • Ransom Place Neighbor
    There is significant history and personal investment in this neighborhood as the homes were built through a sweat equity home ownership program. Yes, this corner has been abandoned for quite some time, but that doesn't mean we should tear down part of a historic neighborhood in favor of a suburban style big box retailer. 16th & Meridian has already been turned into a suburban drugstore intersection; I am not of the opinion we need to treat 16th & MLK in a similar manner. While a grocery would be great, a Meijer is not a walkable, neighborhood grocery. Fronted with a massive parking lot this non-descript big-box store would be visible from the highway and isn't the type of development this area needs. This is part of our ever-expanding downtown and it should be developed in a manner that respects our existing historic neighborhoods and draws further urban renewal, not outlots with fast food establishments. Here's hoping city officials don't sell out some of our neighbors in the name of 'progress'.
  • 16th & king dr
    this sounds like a plausible idea. if meijer would take a cue from crown hill cemetary & have pictures of color in the store to show a more complete history. and maybe every home will not have to be razed.
  • Tough Call
    This would add a lot of shopping and jobs for the neighborhood and that's not easy to overlook...I don't know the neighborhood well so can't comment on whether the homes in question are worth saving, but it would be sad to see a bit of history paved over.
  • So...
    They need to buy 35 homes without eminent domain? One holdout in a neighborhood where many residents have strong personal ties to those homes? The project seems extremely unlikely to proceed on those terms.
  • The Race Card
    Oh boy, here comes the race card...All opponents will be called racist.
  • Flanner House Homes Just As Historic as Other Areas
    To the commenters who flunked Indiana history, art history and Indy history some facts on history. Flanner House Homes are on the National Register of Historic Places. As are these other Indy neighborhoods. Cottage Place, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Haughville Historic Dist, North Meridian Street District, Old Northside, Ransom Place, Town of Speedway. To belittle the history of the Falnner House homes, which made homeownership available during the heart of Jim Crow and legal racial segregation in Indianapolis; to ignore that this neighborhood's history adjacent to Crispus Attucks HS (also on the Register) down from the Walker Theater, Indiana Avenue is to show the commenters ignorance and perhaps their racial bias. It is a Solomonic choice between progress (Meijer) and maintining Indianapolis and African-American history. But to dismiss the area as having no history is historically incorrect. IBJ commenters should spend a little time refreshing their Indy history, instead of dismissing the African-American community as devoid of history, culture or even purpose.
  • Shortsighted
    This location has been thrown out as a long-tern possibility for relocating the IPS bus facility at the north end of Mass Ave. It presents a golden opportunity for a bus hub: it's central, located on two high-capacity corridors and is very near interstate access at I65/21st. UPS's central distribution hub is located on 16th just west of here for a reason. I would hate to see a horrible suburban big box store plopped down at this location at the expense of both the houses in this neighborhood and the possibility of relocating the IPS bus facility here.
  • Historic???
    This area, while it may have minor historical significance, is NOT historic. Plus, they are just planning on removing some of the houses. Bring on the Meijer!!
  • Let's Do It!
    Yes, it's about time for that site and that neighborhood! Holding out for something else has not worked for the last 30 years, why wait now? Historic?...only by minimal age and rationalizations. If anywhere needed a store like this it's this eysore intersection of 16-King!
  • Interesting
    I wonder if Landmarks has done their homework in the community to understand whether residents would rather preserve the architectural/cultural heritage of the area or support a new grocery store? My experience has been that neighbors *lust* after grocery stores, and a walkable (and clean, and modern) grocery store can catalyze further investment. Can't wait to see how this plays out.
  • Welcome change!
    The hood is not a historic neighborhood. Can't wait to shop at this Meijer.
  • YEA
    Where can we go to speak in favor of this project. Is there an organization that we can help from the neighborhood perspective
  • Can't wait to see the design...
    DMD says they are not offering any incentives, but I'm sure they've already reached a backroom agreement on zoning and design, which will render any future public hearing about as meaningful as a kangaroo court. But we can still pretend there's an important public process that works. Wanna bet it doesn't look like some boilerplate building that was picked up from a suburban shopping area and dropped here?

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