More progress on blighted block

April 9, 2009
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44 E. Washington St.Another rundown building at the northwest corner of Washington and Pennsylvania streets is getting some attention after years of neglect. Workers are putting a fresh coat of paint on 44 E. Washington St., the former home of a savings and loan that's been vacant for years. Building owner Jay Kim said he's investing more than $80,000 on his own and also won a facade grant from Indianapolis Downtown Inc. to help with the project. He plans to revamp the entrance, add a new roof, paint the building on all sides and gut the interior in a bid to attract new tenants. Property records show the structure was built in 1919. To see a photo before the work began, click here.

(IBJ Photo/Robin Jerstad)
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  • I don't know that slapping a coat of paint on to cover what is already a deteriorated shell is much of an improvement but, hey, I suppose it's a start. He could go a step further by replacing the dated tinted windows and replacing that dented/banged up overhang above the entrance (it appears to be metal from the way it is dented in the photos). And I hope that awful dark grey color on the side of the building is just some sort of primer.
  • Oh the windows are pretty bad. Hopefully Indy Downtown Inc. wouldn't give a facade grant for just a new coat of paint! Maybe when they revamp the entrance, they'll take off/replace the metal overhang.

    The dark gray seems like a safe, unoffensive choice. What color do you think would look better?
  • I actually just walked past this about an hour and a half ago and they were applying paint to the metal overhang. I don't think that's going anywhere.
  • oh yikes. let me guess, is the paint dark gray?
  • Next door looks a little rough too. What's its story?
  • This doesn't look much better.
    1919? Dang, they must have destroyed that beauty a long time ago.
    My idea of fixing this area is either giving that structure a new facade or knocking it down.
    BTW, I think (though I am not 100% sure) that the next door building to the west is actually from the 1850's.
    I think it would be great if it was restored.
  • Yes, that building to the left/west does date to the 1850s. It appears in J. T. Palmatary's 1854 lithographic view of Indianapolis, and I believe it is the oldest commercial building left in Indianapolis. (The Indiana Historical Society sells a color reproduction of the lithograph; you can see a small black-and-white version here: http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/dc012&CISOPTR=1980&CISOBOX=1&REC=1).

    I agree that it would be great if it were restored--and hope it will be!
  • Take this block and START OVER. And the Suburban Dunkin' Donuts too. This is on Washington Street. THE FRIGGIN' CONRAD IS JUST FEET AWAY.

    This is not a good sign. We actually looked into several of these buildings for purchase, but it just wasn't the right timing for us with a few other projects going on.

    I cannot believe these buildings sit like this in a very high-potential part of town.
  • Thanks George!
    Wow, there are very few structures left in the city from the time that was made.
    We should really try and save that structure.
  • Slow news day?
  • More like a slow news year, so far at least.
  • I am totally on CreamCrimson's side. It is still amazing to me how the city has allowed this part of Washington Street just deteriorate over so many years. It's just a huge joke. It's nothing to go, ooh and aah about for a tourist or local person. It's disgusting and embarrassing for the city of Indianapolis' downtown. I also cannot understand why people feel the need to just tear down old buildings and replace them with new ones. I can see how their argument for potential benefit will be, but STILL, keep the historical elements of Indy IN Indy. Build AROUND them, build ONTOP of them, or just revamp them and think outside the damn box.
  • I work 3 buildings west of that building. And up until the Taste of Tango went in I've walked past these empty buildings for 9 solid months. It's so sad to see these high potential buildings sit vacat. Now...two of them are business again...The building housing Taste of Tango and the building between ToTango and the one mentioned in this article seems to have a restaurant/convenience store going in...not sure as they havent advertised what its going to be. It's a good sign in these trying times. I'm glad for any improvement to the block I spend 40 hours a week on! Gray paint and all. ANything is an improvement from the day I was walking to work and saw a rat scurry along and burrow into a hole in the sidewalk by the building in this article. Bye Bye Rats, Hello Commerce!
  • The fact that this is at the very crossroads of america shows how little real estate value and location really are, here. Property along this 'row' has been decaying for years. Oh, by-the-way CIB; Yes, pave the MSA lot. No 18 month waivers. If it were some little old lady's lot the city would've posted signs/fines already. Your entire organization or 'Bored' evolved from corruptness--and has born similar fruit. Bet Fred's glad he was able to hide down in Bloomington.
  • So does Nick Weber in the Mayors office have the vison to take this block and start over? Guess we will keep waiting.
  • This block in its heyday: http://images.indianahistory.org/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/P0130&CISOPTR=698&CISOBOX=1&REC=1
  • Honestly how hard is it to at least make this block look HALF WAY decent?! For crying out loud they could have local volunteers clean it up. It's embarassing that this has looked like this for so damn long!
  • I'm just guessing here, but I'd guess that each individual site owner thinks s/he is sitting on a gold mine and holding out for a ridiculous price.
  • Wheat 1,

    Beautiful pic. Although it almost makes me want to cry. It's one thing to see the destruction that they did in the sixties and seventies with their new modern facades. But to be able to see these beautiful buildings in their original form is devastating.

    She was very attractive back in the day wasn't she? With her brick facade, individual windows and filled arch roofline.
  • Thundermutt hit the nail on the head.

    I know this is the case with one building on E Washington. The others are probably owned by out-of-towners who don't have to look at the blight on a regular basis and are waiting on their big payday.
  • Wheat,
    Awesome photo!
  • Wow. Wheat 1's picture really makes me appreciate what great old-school architecture we actually have left downtown.
  • Where are the windows?! Shouldn't they have some on the facade?
  • It would appear that there are but 6 windows in the entire building... and they are ugly. Ugly windows.....
  • Yes, I have been saying for years that this block of EWashington is the worse in the downtown area. There seems so much potential here but I recall reading at one time that the properties are tied up in multiple out-of-town owners who probably do think they are sitting on gold mines. Surely, the City will want something done before February of 2012 and the Super Bowl! Otherwise, they will have to cover over this blight.
  • Hey...let's have the people from Louisville come and project their laser show on this block!
  • I think it's fine that Dunkin' Donuts is downtown. Travel to Boston or somewhere else out east and you'll find them nearly everywhere. The job of an urban setting is the diversity of the merchants. Who cares if the half-vacant Conrad is down the street. Get over yourself.
  • Cory my man, you alright?
  • Hey E: I'm still here, just buried in some work for the dead-tree edition. Hopefully I'll be back to daily updates soon.
  • Sounds as though all that hard work may mean there's something special in this weekend's dead-tree edition. Might that be true?
  • Any news on the 4 story proposal in Fountain Square off the Cultural Trail?
  • Anastasia's right about the DD, and not just on the east coast - I used to stay at the Palmer House in Chicago for work a lot, and I generally ate breakfast at the DD across the street from it. And I was not the only one - coffee and a bagel at DD is a much better deal than room service at the Palmer House. And I was there for work, not linger in my room over an $8 bagel.

    I don't really get the crack about the DD being suburban, either - it doesn't have a parking lot, it doesn't have a drive through...and it was able to maintain some distinctiveness by keeping the pointy roselyn sign.
  • I think some of you are being a little harsh concerning this intersection. Sure, it had seen better days, but the amount of PRIVATE investment in this immediate area over the past 2 years has been amazing. If you go back 7 years to the conversion of 110 East Washington into condos, this part of the CBD was a ghost town with boarded-up windows on all sides. Now, the City is faced with the pleasure of having the last vacant structure rehabbed and leased. Most of downtown has relied on tax breaks and incentives for development. The market actually created this and you people act as if hell has frozen over.

    Yes, this is the Crossroads and other areas of DT received attention first, but with the great rehab/reuse of Allen Plaza, 110 East Washington Street and the Symphony Center condos, there is now a residential base that will support the many restaurants that have opened in the past 6mos (not many areas of the Mile-Sq can say that). Coupled with the hotels and offices and this has truely become one of the ONLY 24-hr portion of DT within the Mile-Square.
  • I agree with Cory. Everyone needs to lighten up. I know very little about architecture and design. As long as it's not bright green or some awuful color, an occupied building is better than vacant. I can't believe that you can walk for blocks around downtown and just see all the development in the last 10 years. Don't be so hard. It's great that there are experts pushing for creativity and originality, though. Keeps everyone honest.

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