Paramount Tower plan shrinks

August 25, 2008
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Paramount Student
                              HousingDevelopers are taking a new approach to a student housing project proposed for a 2.3-acre parking lot a few blocks east of the Central Canal. The plan, which once called for a 16-story tower, now envisions a 4- or 5-story structure including a ground-floor parking level and a small retail space at the corner of Capitol Avenue and North Street. Each floor would contain 55 units of various sizes with a total of 140 beds. Two courtyards and a pool area would be built atop the parking structure. The updated application, which names Minneapolis-based Opus as the developer, asks the city to vacate a portion of Kankakee Street. The new plan calls for no surface parking and a structure built to the street in every direction. Check out an earlier post here.
  • Disappointing, but not surprising. I wasn't sure they'd be able to pull off the bigger one.
  • hopefully it will look better than the other design
  • I give them kudos for the garage with no surface parking and building up to the street on all sides. A 16 story structure would have stuck out at that site. I believe that 5 stories would be the tallest building for blocks around this site.
  • I checked out Opus' site. They seem to have a collection of good looking projects under their belt. This includes Park East in St. Louis and the new Austin City Limits. I look forward to seeing the redesign.
  • I'll miss the height, but building up to the street on every side definitely makes up for it. The pool is a nice addition.

    A grocery store would be a great investment in that area of the city. With Paramount Tower and The Cosmopolitan going up, no to mention all the apartments already nearby, someone could make a killing.

    The vacant first-floor of the building that AUL recently did a fantastic job of restoring would be a great location. It's got plenty of parking.
  • Babbage,

    I checked out Opus' site as well. They've got some decent projects, but a lot of generic work as well.

    I like this one in LA:
  • In theory I like the shrinking of the building. Building tall is sexy but using the whole site is better for the urban fabric of the area.

    However, the description of the ground floor is sending up red flags. It sounds to be like they want a parking garage at ground level around the vast majority of the building. At the very least, they should have retail spaces at the North/Capitol corner and Michigan/Capitol corner. I'd prefer retail wrapping a significant portion of the ground floor -- with in/out spaces for the parking garage of course -- but ignoring the Michigan/Capitol corner would be a huge mistake.
  • Oh wow, how amazing!! I'm so glad we have a developer who opted to be safe, not edgy or risk taking. I hope someday, Indy will realize that imploding the existing high rises and spreading the square footage out equally into four to five story buildings, we'll have the largest collection of cardboard box buildings! Oh future, here we come.
  • Oh, Dustin how ironic you are in your ignorance! You are apparently being sarcastic but everything in your post is true in all seriousness. If the square footage of Indy's skyscrapers were spread out in mid-rise buildings, we'd have one hell of an urban environment. Skyscrapers are over-rated and have no real reason to exist in the flatlands where real estate is easy to come by. Look at Paris or Washington DC for examples.
  • Mr. Peanut- I agree 100%.. make that 119%
  • Ablerock,
    Funny you showed me that example, it was one I was impressed with, out of all their work. Most of their stuff looks to be a breath of fresh air compared with most of the architecture proposed around here. On a side note, I just read that 707 E North St is now on hold...good luck selling those $800,000 condos.
  • Skycrapers are not over rated. Downtown skylines seem to be the symbol for American cities. Skylines seem to measure the city's success and can be impressive. Monday night football games, Olympics always show the Downtown skylines. Washington and Paris have other architecural icons. Indianapolis does not. I think an impressive city has a combination of low, mid and high rises. Infill should definitely be a priority in developing the city. Skycrapers if sited and designed correctly just add to the city. Creating unique and impressive skylines has become an American tradition. I think the 5 story design is the best solution for that site since it fits better with the surrounding context.
  • Dustin,

    Here you go again, running your mouth as if it were one of significance. You don't live here anymore, but you sniff around like an attack dog. This project is one more example of something good happening to Indy and is still a work in progress. It's not something to be critical of especially from an outsider.

    Perhaps you need a positive focus in your life. We can only hope.
  • I hate to see the height go, but I do think it is for the best. This project will have a much greater impact on the area by being built to the streets. This along with the Cosmo a few blocks away will hopefully start to bring some more street life to the area.
  • Good planning, especially downtown, should ALWAYS take priority over height. Building to the sidewalks and not having surface parking is a win-win and adds to our built environment much more than any 16-story structure with front yards and surface lots. Picture the Ladmark Center and the other building catty-corner at Meridian annd 11th Streets and you get an idea of how poorly designed highrises can be a detriment as opposed to an asset.
  • Plus the smaller project will be easier to finance and thus more likely to actually get completed considering the current credit market conditions.

    I ride my bike around this area relatively often and I can't wait to see construction begin.
  • I am not hugely disappointed, but was there no explanation as to why this decision was made? Credit markets aside, all rental apartments in the downtown area (especially over by the canal and iupui) are 99-100% occupied. Does anyone think that this must not address the current demand to live in that area the same way a 16-story structure would? Or perhaps they revised down their original estimate for rental demand in the area (possibly because of the cosmopolitan)?
  • Ryan, this is a student housing development for IUPUI, I think.
  • This is a student housing project not affilliated with IUPUI. The demand for affordable area campus housing has grown to the point that IUPUI themselves are looking into building some more student housing. If IUPUI expands to the degree they are wanting to expand then this is an appropriate response by the builder. Otherwise they're stuck with a big empty student housing tower.
  • Peanut and berwickguy, I really appreciated your feedback to my post. However, I do realize that you two must have been incredibly bored so you decided to put yourselves on a pedestal so everyone else would think like you. Sadly for you, I think your intention was unsuccessful, because as you should already know by now... Indy as well as other cities have distinct skylines. When a city has its own style, it evokes a thought as well as a personality of its character. I am on the page where it reads, forward thinking and progressive. You two must be on a missing page that reads, conservative, safe, scared, and boring.

    I still like Indy, I am from Indiana, I used to visit the city often when I lived an hour away from it, until I moved out on my own to downtown. I have happy memories of the time I lived downtown and to this day, I miss them. Yet I have already decided to move forward and think ahead, so therefore, along with this sense, I continue to hope for the city to strive for better and top and beyond. Apparently, I have been dissapointed and bitter, yes, of course, my feelings do not matter to anyone else, but I have the privilege to express my thoughts freely. Anyway, you two and everyone else on your page can sit there all you want and think up silly jokes or just be blatantly ridiculous, while I can still express my honest thoughts.
  • I suspect the reason the Paramount plans are for a shorter more dense building is the same reason for the Cosmopolitan having a poured concrete base and wood upper floor construction: the price of steel is out of sight. Expect the Paramount to be 4-5 floors of wood/concrete construction for the same reason.
  • I tried posting this yesterday but apparently without success. That's what I get for trying to post from a blackberry. Anyway, I agree with CorrND that the Michigan/Capitol corner needs to have the retail, and it makes so much sense to do it, sense on that corner the lot goes out into a little out-cropping around the building on the other side of Kankakee. Use that area for retail that fronts a busier auto and foot traffic street, and would work with the Cosmo in building an urban retail corridor for downtown residents. Then the remaining regular shape of the floor could be used for parking, though it seems that a single floor underground garage and full first floor retail would be just as easy to get financing for, if not easier given the greater number of income flows that could come from such.
  • Could we have a few less blanket statements here. The discussions might be taken a bit more seriously. How for example if adjacent building heights trump any notion of high rise do we ever allow one to be built. Correct me if I'm wrong. The Soldiers and Sailors Monument used to be the tallest structure in town. If we were Paris, that might be the dictating factor. Nothing taller than the monument or the Statehouse. That said, are there no good examples built here that are taller than the monument? I for one find the City County Building and the old INB Tower to be very nice examples. Not maintained very well over the years. Of course, what existed on the City County site would never be allowed to be demolished today. A little close scrutiny will likely show we won't be saying the same thing about the Paramount, that we say about other structures that have proven themselves for the long run.
  • Wow, I can't wait for the day we catch up with the Carmels and Bloomingtons. We wouldn't want to build anything taller than what they are building. And cheap, cheap construction to boot. Just like the Kosene projects and the Cosmopolitan.
  • Yay I'm so glad Junior spoke up :) I agree with you 100%, because I truly think Indy needs to turn the clock back and become even more mediocre!
  • Yeah, I actually agree with Junior. Carmel and Bloomington both are doing more high density urban development than indianapolis even though they are a fraction of the size. Dustin if you haven't been to B-town in a while they have 5-10 story structures popping up all over the west side of downtown. (No comment though on the design of those buildings).
  • IndyIndie, I have noticed that Carmel has done a lot of density construction as well as Bloomington. The interesting thing about this concept is that Mass Ave has this type of makeup, yet Indiana Avenue doesn't. Indiana Avenue is dilapidated and scary after dark. Nothing to really do or see compared to what is offered on Mass Ave. As for Fountain Square, that's better than Indiana Ave. Anyway, but I just think that the original plan of this building for IUPUI students was a wonderful idea to actually boom the area as another focal point of downtown. But when the plan was downsized to a silly low rise building, I just can't see this area actually seeing the light of major improvements too soon. This area would be just another part of downtown where I don't even want to be in.

    In Phoenix, the downtown is pretty large, but if one was in the metro driving around, they could see two separate clusters of high rise buildings and in between, are the lower high rises. Like Uptown New York through Central Park to Lower Manhattan. It looks like a bridge, I just think Indy could do this as well.

    As I've said before, we'll be looking toward the future of the nation's number one conservative city! Here we come :)
  • Dustin, if 140 beds in the Paramount project and 218 apartments in the Cosmopolitan (maybe 400 residents?) doesn't have a dramatic effect on the area, I'll eat broken glass.

    At this point, it's up to the State and OneAmerica to decide the fate of that area. There's no waiting for something else to spark the area -- they're the ones holding essentially all the open land.
  • This project may be too far removed from Indiana Ave to have any real impact. What would help Indiana Ave would be fore OneAmerica to do something with their sea of surface parking lots.
  • CorrND,
    I believe the blog states 140 beds on each floor...
    Each floor would contain 55 units of various sizes with a total of 140 beds. 1 ground parking floor + 4 floors x 55 units = 220 units at least.
  • Babbage -- ahhh, thanks for the correction. Even better. We might be talking about nearly 1000 new residents from these two projects.

    If that doesn't entice someone to open a grocery store in the ground floor of the Gibson Building, I don't know what will. (Frankly, I'm amazed OneAmerica hasn't signed one yet.) Once you have a basic necessity like a grocery store in the area, it's a lot more appealing to build residential projects.
  • Indianapolis doesn't really have an independent grocer any more, and a corporate grocer isn't likely to pioneer a small-footprint downtown location now that SuperValu has pulled the plug on the Sunflower Market concept.
  • Fresh Market is a possibility, though probably not in the near term given that they just opened their new store on College. The Gibson Building has 22k sq.ft. of retail space, which is pretty close to the average for Fresh Market and exactly the size of the new College Ave. store.
  • I regularly follow the IBJ Property Lines blog and at times become frustrated with the volume of dialogue which is not fact based. Since few of these diatribes are particularly damaging to anyone I tend to ignore them and focus on those who post arguments based on fact or perceived experience in the field under discussion.

    I have opted to speak up about a post from Dustin as I find his latest comment to be particularly misinformed and inaccurate (Indiana Avenue is dilapidated and scary after dark). Indiana Avenue is in no way dilapidated or scary; unless you are scared by relative quiet. It is accurate that the Avenue is by no means bustling 24/7, but there are no vacant, run-down structures on the Avenue from its terminus at the One America Tower to 11th Street (the historical core of the Avenue). In fact you will find newly renovated structures in additon to the home of Historic Landmarks of Indiana and the historically and culturally significant, Madame Walker Theatre Center.

    The Indiana Avenue Cultural District area does not need a hulking 16-story, 2008 version of Lugar Tower, which is what this proposal was before being scaled down. Dustin is correct that Indiana Avenue is no Mass Avenue with respect to commercial development and the addition of the initial proposal would not have made Indiana Avenue any more like Massachusetts Avenue than it is now.

    Dustin, I would recommend the next time you are in town you take another walk down Massachusetts Avenue from New York Street north and take note of what happens when you cross Michigan Street. I think you will find the vibrancy of Mass Avenue disappears as pedestrians are met with the 'back yard' of the John J. Barton apartment towers and the 'mass of concrete' in front of the IFD headquarters. Neither of these structures builds the pedestrian experience and in fact they deter it. The Barton Apartments in particular turns its back to Mass Avenue.

    A lot remains to be seen with the proposed housing targeted for IUPUI students, but the positive change is the new design calls for construction of the building up to the sidewalks and the potential for street level retail. Additionally, the structure is more to scale with its surroundings. These are the types of developments the Indiana Avenue area needs to create a vibrant residential and commercial environment. Creating a 16 story concrete island does not accomplish this and aesthetically speaking the original design was about as conservative as you could get, so I am confused as to why some are so upset to see it go.

    These are of course my opinions, but they are based on my experiences from living in the area, being familiar with the surrounding neighborhoods and interacting with the local residents and businesses. Our district is fortunate to have such cultural treasures as the Walker Theatre, Crispus Attucks, Bethel AME Church, IUPUI, and Ransom Place. We welcome the addition of well-planned and strategic development in the area.

    I would encourage future posters like Dustin to base their arguments more on fact than fiction as your comments are out there for all to see. Inaccruate comments do not help local residents realize the positive economic development they are seeking and do nothing for the establishment of relationships with local stakeholders.
  • Well said, Mr. Jones. Windy, but well said. ;)
  • Randy Jones

    I would like to extend my thanks for your input regarding my last post.

    Indiana Avenue is dilapidated. What I mean by this is, that the area after dark is dead and quiet. That to me is a dilapidated sense of aura. Who in their right mind would want to be there after dark? It's a joke to even call it a district because it doesn't lend a very characteristic feel at all. Sure the Madame Walker Theater is a good example of one, but as a whole, no.

    Mr. Jones, I know what I am talking about, because I lived downtown. I already know the area you were referring to in the middle of Mass Ave. In fact I lived on Mass Ave and it is a definite smack in the face for someone who just finished dinner at Bazbeaux and decided to walk up to Metro for drinks.

    I hardly think the new proposal for the student housing is ever going to become a boon to the area. The four-five story concept is boring. Yes, the 16 story preliminary design of the Paramount Tower was boring and conservative as well, but one thing about that building is that it would have possibly spawned more development nearby. A four to five story building is just like any other ordinary height building on the outside of the downtown core. That particular area is dead after dark as well. You are an apparent lover of Indiana Avenue, but literally speaking, who in the hell hears about Crispus Attucks, Bethel AME Church, and Ransom Place very often? Sure IUPUI is mentioned more often, because it's a college.

    I think you need to get over yourself and face reality. Because the area you are so fond of is nothing to brag about.
  • There are many who reside in the area adjacent to or along Indiana Avenue who don't share this skewed definition of dilapidated. As a resident in the Indiana Avenue Cultural District area I am not claiming that our District is the end all. I am also not attempting to compare Indiana Avenue to Mass Ave or Fountain Square as those Districts have their own goals and objectives and as has been accuratley pointed out, they are doing quite well. Our area is simply trying to look for positive change and the opportunity to have others learn about the cultural significance of Crispus Attucks, Bethel AME Church and Ransom Place among others. The fact that people don't hear about these sites often doesn't lessen their role in the downtown community as a whole. My request was simply that those commenting on this topic share their opinions with a little respect and a lot less disdain. This area is home to many and we recognize changes need to be made and we are trying to make a difference; forgive us if we are proud of the area we call home.
  • Dustin,

    A dilapidated sense of aura? Nice grammar. Nice word choice as well. Dilapidated-Dead and quiet? And what is lending a characteristic feel mean? Uh...nothing.

    Dustin, Your communication skills are nothing to brag about.
  • Dave

    Thanks for pointing out my lack of communication skills. Usually, when I pick something apart, I provide my contrast point of view. Would love to see how your communication skills are worth bragging about Dave.

    Just a reminder though. Your sentencing structure fell apart.

    Your question was, And what is 'lending a characteristic feel' mean? Instead, I would have said it this way... And what does 'lending a characteristic feel' mean?

    Your last sentence was silly. I would have typed...

    Dustin, your communication skills are nothing to brag about.

    Then again, you probably just typed lazily and thought, I'm too good to prove myself to anyone while I point out someone else's language structure.

    Have a nice day and go color.
  • Dustin,

    Still didn't get it? I guess your comprehension skills rival your communication skills. Next time I'll type slower.
  • Aw Dave

    You have an issue with something? I'm sure your frustrations are getting the best of you. Now go play and don't hit, be a good boy.
  • Is It Nap Time For Some People?
    When did Property Lines become a bulletin board for 7-year aspiring bloggers? Grow up people! What childish behavior! Discuss the article like adults, or get the off this board. If you have anger-management issues, then seek out the help of a qualified therapist, don't waste hijack this message board with your crap.

    As for the new proposal, I think the scaled down development should meet the demand for student housing while making for a more feasible project. Five-stories with 220 units over parking and retail is sufficient density for the area and also a wise response to the current tight credit market. High-rise development only makes sense when land costs and/or other development restrictions support such intensive development. Land is simply not that expensive in that area, nor are there any significant limits to building out, rather than up. Also, getting financing for a spec. project at this time is difficult, especially for high-rise housing, so a more modest proposal makes good sense.

    The design could benefit from some tweaking, but I think with a few modest refinements, it could be a very nice addition to the neighborhood.

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