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One Mass Ave project starts; another one is in limbo

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The development arm of the Indianapolis Housing Agency has closed on financing and started construction of an $11.5 million, 61-unit apartment project at Massachusetts Avenue and East and North streets.

It's the first of two phases of housing and retail space known as Millikan on Mass that Insight Development plans to build on ground surrounding the Barton Tower Apartments. But the fate of the second phase is up in the air because its financing had been tied to a project that the team of Insight and Flaherty & Collins Properties had hoped to develop across Mass Ave at the site of the Indianapolis Fire Department headquarters.

The city announced Oct. 24 that it had selected the team of J.C. Hart Co., Strongbox Commercial and Schmidt Associates architects to build a $43 million, mixed use project with 235 apartments on the fire department site.

Insight President Bruce Baird said his development team is beginning the process of evaluating its options for phase two of the development. That project, with 68 apartments and 9,000 square feet of retail space, would line Massachusetts Avenue and East Michigan Street across the street from the Athenaeum.

Baird said it's possible the project, which already has received city design approval, will proceed even though the project across the street was awarded to the Hart/Strongbox team. He said Insight/Flaherty is only now beginning to focus on phase two after closing phase one financing last week and beginning construction Nov. 12.

Phase one, which includes 5,000 square feet of street-front retail, is financed almost entirely from the sale of rental housing tax credits awarded to Insight by the state last March. The credits are being syndicated by locally based City Real Estate Advisors and are being purchased by Huntington Bank and Fifth Third Bank. The construction lender is Merchants Bank of Indiana, with participation by First Merchants Bank.

The use of rental housing tax credits places limits on the income levels of those who occupy the units. More than half of the 61 units will be leased to people with household incomes between $23,000 and $40,000 a year. The balance will have even tighter income restrictions.

Baird said the five-story brick structure, most of which will front East Street, is scheduled to be ready for tenants in December 2013. Though work has started, a formal groundbreaking is expected to happen early next month. The design, by a partnership of the architecture firms Ratio and A2S04, preserves surface parking used by residents of the 21-story, 246-unit Barton Tower, a 1967 building where the Indianapolis Housing Agency recently completed $8 million in improvements, including new mechanical systems and cosmetic upgrades.

Baird said the Barton, which is open to seniors and the disabled, lost tenants during the renovation but is now back up to about 88 percent occupancy.

 

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  1. How can any company that has the cash and other assets be allowed to simply foreclose and not pay the debt? Simon, pay the debt and sell the property yourself. Don't just stiff the bank with the loan and require them to find a buyer.

  2. If you only knew....

  3. The proposal is structured in such a way that a private company (who has competitors in the marketplace) has struck a deal to get "financing" through utility ratepayers via IPL. Competitors to BlueIndy are at disadvantage now. The story isn't "how green can we be" but how creative "financing" through captive ratepayers benefits a company whose proposal should sink or float in the competitive marketplace without customer funding. If it was a great idea there would be financing available. IBJ needs to be doing a story on the utility ratemaking piece of this (which is pretty complicated) but instead it suggests that folks are whining about paying for being green.

  4. The facts contained in your post make your position so much more credible than those based on sheer emotion. Thanks for enlightening us.

  5. Please consider a couple of economic realities: First, retail is more consolidated now than it was when malls like this were built. There used to be many department stores. Now, in essence, there is one--Macy's. Right off, you've eliminated the need for multiple anchor stores in malls. And in-line retailers have consolidated or folded or have stopped building new stores because so much of their business is now online. The Limited, for example, Next, malls are closing all over the country, even some of the former gems are now derelict.Times change. And finally, as the income level of any particular area declines, so do the retail offerings. Sad, but true.

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