Milhaus plans $6M project along Virginia Avenue

September 19, 2013
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Milhaus Development is looking to build more apartments along Virginia Avenue as part of a $6 million mixed-use project that calls for 3,100 square feet of retail space.

virginia ave elevation
                              225pxThe local developer has filed plans with the city’s Department of Metropolitan Development and is seeking a variance to build a four-story, 49-foot-tall structure with 57 units at 1015 Virginia Ave. The maximum height allowed there is 35 feet.

Milhaus also is seeking approval for outdoor seating to possibly attract a small restaurant that could take advantage of the Cultural Trail that runs along Virginia Avenue.

“We’re working through the design of the building that’s modern but respects the history of the Fountain Square area,” said Greg McHenry, a Milhaus development associate.

Units would range in size from as small as 400 square feet for a studio to 1,150 square feet for a two bedroom with monthly rents likely ranging from $800 to $1,400.  

Construction could start next spring.

A vacant building last occupied by a used-car dealership sits on the half-acre parcel south of Buchanan Street.virginia ave carlot 225px

The Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission is set to hear Milhaus’ request Oct. 2, followed by the Metropolitan Development Commission’s hearing examiner Nov. 14.

To the north along Virginia Avenue, Milhaus developed the four-story Mozzo Apartments, a $6 million project with 55 units that opened in March and is fully occupied.

Its Artistry development is set to open in November with 256 units on the east edge of downtown within the former Bank One Operations Center. Construction on a second phase of 240 units is slated to begin in the spring.
 

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  • and sorta bad
    I think this is great. More development along the cultural trail when I distinctly remember opponents to the trail say it wouldn't spur development in some of the more remote areas. So I'm excited to see another development. Now - the bad... WHY do our developers and designers insist on doing BLAND, square, Block Buildings with a straight facade all the way up? Can't we get out of this design rut. Where are the curves? where are some of the design asthetics? At least make the facade some what multi-dimensional with larger recesses and other features. Can I get a Hell ya? But seriously - I'm bored with some of the new developments because it will just rise to be a big block warehouse looking building once again. The new tower planned for market square, that goes against the grain, the JW, that went against the grain. Most of the other recent ones - Big Square Blocks....
    • Fountain Square Merchant & Property owner
      I agree we need a building that reflects ART and in no way is normal or boring we need a colorful artistic building in Fountain Square
    • curves
      I agree! problem is curves cost money to build and steal square footage from already tight lots. Square footage makes money. take what you can get, a big box will bring business and people to the area along with their money.
    • Pricing
      I certainly understand supply and demand, and I figure they wouldn't be opening these if the market couldn't bear it. However, the basic studios in Artistry ended up being $895 a month + $75 a month for parking. So, nearly $1000 for a studio apartment at 400 sq feet. That seems...high. With all the new apartment stock coming online at the same pricing, you can't assume Yuppie and Empty Nesters are in unlimited supply. What happens when the bubble bursts? ---I am one of those that makes a pretty good salary for me. Certainly not close to needing "affordable housing," but also not willing to spend 75% of a paycheck just for rent and no utilities. It seems to be getting somewhat out of hand fairly quickly.
      • Tipping Point
        If you are going to turn Fountain Square to the plus side, this definitely helps the tipping point. Now if next they can dress up the exit off of I65 to Fountain Square coming from the southside...
      • Overall, A Great Idea
        I think the design could use some work, but I'm fully supportive of the concept. These are just preliminary elevations and if fenestration at ground floor is worked on and we see more detail, I think it could be a great project. Of course, there will be a few NIMBYs complaianing about parking, but they should be relatively few.
      • This is getting embarrassing...
        Is there like just one person designing every new building in Indy? I'm at a loss for words at the utter lack of creativity in the design of this building. I'm not surprised that it's from the same folks that brought us that awful Mozzo. This looks cheap. Cheap in design. Cheap in materials. And worst of all, plopped down right in the middle of an historic corridor of late 19th and early 20th century buildings. Personally I'd rather have the abandoned gas station. And for the record, I've lived a couple blocks from this spot for close to 20 years and am not opposed to development in FS. But please do something with even just a hint of uniqueness to it please!
        • Meh
          Seems Milhaus has embraced the government housing look. No creativity at all.
        • Gensus
          I am pleased that Milhaus is seeking to build more apartments. Their entire design team has really proven to be successful in developing unique buildings that are obviously appreciated as Mozzo is fully occupied! I'd love to know what other apartment complex rented out as fast as them. Keep up the great designs and I'm crossing my fingers that you move on to Virginia Avenue project!
        • Hey Linton, congrats on your hardwork and patience paying off from your early days as a pioneer in this area. Curves are nice, but expensive. In most normal areas bright colors would be very dated and considered tacky, look at most 1970's era building. But in Fountain Square as in Mass Ave and Broad Ripple, I think bright colors would work for the long run. Of course with black and white drawings, it is hard to see textures and colors. Wait to see the color renderings before passing judgement.
        • step it up a notch
          "building that’s modern but respects the history of the Fountain Square area" = boring. And we don't need more boring apartment buildings.
        • Commercial
          Will there be retail space on the bottom floor? I didn't see a mention of it and I can't tell from design. I hope they will respect Fountain Square as a commercial/retail corridor also. The Mozzo was a huge failure in that department.
          • Retail space
            The first paragraph of the blog post says the project calls for 3,100 square feet of retail space. The post also points out that Milhaus is seeking approval for outdoor seating to possibly attract a small restaurant.
          • just another boring box
            Please look at the other buildings in the area and design something that nods to the past and winks at the future. Our world can't be THAT boring.
          • Boring
            Boring just like the cement board on the Mozzo....it will get approved....this is INDY
          • Forget Curves!
            I'm just going to come out and disagree with all of you. I hate superfluous building curves. Nothing makes a building look outdated within five years quite like someone's artsy-fartsy "curves for the sake of curves" approach. Depth, dimension, fine, but you can keep your curves! I want to know when development is going to head eastward along Prospect. The opportunity that direction is huge.
          • @ Linton
            I agree that we need an artistic, colorful building. I also think we need street trees badly. I hope this development would incorporate some street trees along VA Ave. I also hope that the neighbors don't come out and rally on parking concerns. We don't need to destroy Fountain Square with excess parking. I'm glad to see new development in FS, and I'm particularly glad to see active ground floor uses, although I hope for more than 3,000 s.f. of retail with this. That said, I'd love to see some of our underperforming existing buildings do better. The whole theater building, with the exception of the End of the Line is abysmal, dirty, and the last place I care to spend my money in the neighborhood. And of course, we have the old Deano's Vino building.. ugh. There's so much potential here, but it seems that new development is what is going to drive large scale change, rather than that which is existing.
          • A quite shout of excitement
            I'm super excited for the development, but a little critical of the early design. Fiber cement is the hot thing right now, isn't it! Take a drive down the back alley to the Hinge if you want to know what it's going to look like in two years, though. Fiber cement, especially used as it was on the Mozzo, the Carburetor Lofts (and various other new developments), relies on caulking and rain screen technology to remain weather tight. Thus it will require a lot of maintenance down the road, which based on my reasonable knowledge of building owners probably won't happen to the level it should to keep pace with the deterioration. Installers are notoriously lazy about the details on those fancy panel systems too (just get up real close to buildings using that technology and you'll see the quality of workmanship). Do you think that the Mozzo will still be there in a hundred years, looking as good as the other brick buildings on Virginia Ave? A lot of new development is short sighted in terms of using cheaper modern matierals that aren't time tested...obviously as a result of budget and market conditions as opposed to the desire of us as inhabitants of these communities to create something that will anchor a place for long after we are gone. The Fountain Square Theater Building may be a little dusty and rough around the edges, but the patina is what makes the whole of Fountain Square diverse and interesting. I fear the patina of these new buildings 20 years from now.
          • @Bill
            Hey Bill, nice shot at Linton there. The man basically saved the cornerstone of the neighborhood and sparked the revitalization that's taking place today. But back to subject of this blog post. Isn't this parcel of land part of the historic district? I can't imagine that this current design would be approved to be built in the historic district. But then again, this is Indy.
          • Agree:
            Superfluous curves bad. Better materials needed. Developers: spend the money now and defer some of your ROI. I know, you need to preserve all the capital you can *right now* to continue your good work, but you are making short-sighted decisions. The cement board/rainscreen/caulk comment is right on mark. Architects: stop suggesting crappy cladding systems and do us all a favor by educating and steering your clients in the direction of durability. Ultimately, it will look better, for a longer period of time. Bonus: this is also more sustainable. Beautiful buildings are loved (like the Fountain Theater) and ugly (or ill-maintained cheap-o buildings) are demolished. Adjust your motives and thinking accordingly. Rant over.
          • ROI Rules All
            Architects in Indy suggest better materials and argue the merits of long term costs vs. short term cost until they're blue in the face. At the end of the day it is up to the developer to decide what they're willing to pay for a particular project. As a designer the only way to avoid this particular crisis of the profession (whereby everything starts to look similar and use the same materials) would be to refuse this work altogether. Every project sees the designer fight the good fight; we might score some small victories (extra insulation, fiberglass windows, high quality glazing system, etc.), but to get those concessions we often are forced to give up on other fronts. The only way you're truly going to get "nicer" buildings would be to pay more for their construction. If you pay more for construction then it follows the rent would, in turn, be higher. In the end it boils down to ROI.
            • Cure. Wait for ROI.
              OK, Architects do "fight the good fight" and lose out to the developer/client...but architects often also design sub-par details and do construction administration work, sometimes allowing sub-par construction details to get by. So there is some culpability there too. Also, ROI can be measured over 3 years, 5 years, or 30 years. Show me a proforma where the developer defers some of their up-front developer fee in order to be able to pay for better materials - hard to find those. "But the banks won't lend me more unless I raise rents...I have so many development costs because this urban infill...etc., etc." Take it out of your up-front "developer fee." Some will, some won't. You can usually the difference by looking at the facade materials, workmanship, etc. Too bad. It's not that "The City" approves crap - developers develop crap. Indy is a weaker market...so developers that want quick returns (with lower rents but similar fixed costs as in stronger markets) choose cheaper materials and shoddy contractors in order to speed those returns. It's that simple.
            • More to worry about than the design
              If I'm the only "naysayer",then so be it. I'm not opposed to development, but I'm opposed to development in this form. The reason that developers like Milhaus continue with "mixed use" projects is that these are the only projects eligible for TIF funding.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_increment_financing) The other Milhaus projects seemed like a great idea. However, IMO, they almost look like they're barely a step above the newer Section 8 buildings. To use tax money to fund your private development, then to charge upwards of $900 or more per month for a studio seems a tad obnoxious and elitist to me. Not what Fountain Square is about, at all. For instance, out of curiosity I sent an email inquiring about pricing for apartments at the Artistry. The lady who responded could not give me ANY information on the actual (likely overpriced) apartments, but informed me that they would happily accept a $100 payment from me to hold an apartment that I know absolutely nothing about. Really!?! Are people actually doing this? As for me . . . no thank you. I will continue to pay a very reasonable mortgagepayment for the home that I OWN in Fountain Square. I love my neighborhood and I am very invested in it - both financially and emotionally. I care about where I live. I care about my neighbors and the businesses here that I frequent. I'm guessing that Milhaus does not have the same attachment and investment that I do. And although there are many who will say that I'm being a Negative Nancy and that I favor stifling potential development, I will have to steadfastly disagree with them. I strongly believe in development for my neighborhood, just not this way. I believe that these short-term "quick fixes" come with long-term unintended consequences. If Fletcher Place is gung ho for it, more power to them. Just keep it on your side of the interstate, please and thank you. Also, my gym in in Fletcher Place and many of the members are residents of Cityway and Mozzo. What I'm hearing is that they are far from full, but other posters have indicated otherwise. Does anyone have solid numbers for this?
            • Agree
              I soooo.agree!
            • I agree.
              Hell Ya!
            • Negative Nancy
              So at the risk of being accsued of being a paid shill for the developer (as it seems happens with any pro-development post on here), I'm going to say that I find it utterly ridiculous that we have naysayers for new development in Fountain Square. I bought my home in 2005 and have quite an emotional investment in it, to the point that there's a sold sign in my front yard, and I still can't let this go. First - where does this article mention anything about TIF? Amy seems to be latching on to this TIF thing very tightly, yet I have seen no mention of TIF with respect to this project. Even still, if TIF funds were being used for site remediation/utility locations/drive improvements, I would still think it to be a perfectly good use of TIF funds. We're finally at the point where new development is knocking at our door, and if I were ever sure of anything, it was that Fountain Square would not tunr into a neighborhood of NIMBYs who raised concerns over parking/density/etc. I think we can all haggle over the design, as I would agree that it needs some work; but to say that mixed use development is inappropriate???? SERIOUSLY? Why in the world did you move to Fountain Square? I hope the MDC doesn't give in to the vocal minority on this project, because it's a good step for us.
            • Positive Project
              While it would be good to see a little more exciting design, it all comes down to costs as others have pointed out. The Mozzo was a success for Milhaus so obviously this is a follow-up to that project. As far as TIF money goes, I think Bryan hit the nail on the head in that it hasn't even been mentioned and I don't believe was requested when the Mozzo was built at around the same cost. It could be needed on this site if there is soil contamination but again that would be a good use of TIF money. Overall, I think this is a positive project for the area and will help build on the Mozzo and Hinge Projects.
            • TIF $
              I spoke with the developer today and he confirmed that there is no TIF funding or any other sorts of public money going to this project. So, I guess we can throw that argument out the window.
            • Wow
              So many negative Nancy's! It's an apartment building people, not the Taj Mahal. You guys want curves and glass and color and steel and world class design that would price it out of affordability for nearly everyone. Ridiculous sentiment being expressed, per usual.
            • Better design please
              Mixed use infill with this form and massing would be great here, but, IMHO the design is not worthy of approval. Am I really being a Negative Nancy by saying that something other than fiber cement should be required as the majority facade element? What would we say if it were proposed to have vinyl, aluminum, or even wood siding? Fiber cement is a great siding material for single-family houses, but it really doesn't seem becoming of a mixed-use, commercial project in a historic commercial corridor. How many commercial or multi-family buildings in Fountain Square use something other than masonry as their dominant facade material? I'm guessing it's about zero. Now, I'm not saying, "Don't use that material simply because it hasn't been used there before." I'm arguing that the construction will look inferior and not age nearly as well as masonry. And what about the ground level design along Buchanan Street? They've got to be able to do better than that. But then again, the City found that type of design plenty good enough for the East Street facade of the latest Waverly building, so... I guess I shouldn't be surprised.
            • Heads Up
              Just a heads up - the blog Urban Indy has a lot of renderings and more information. http://www.urbanindy.com/2013/09/20/fountain-square-apartment-proposal/
              • To the Negative Nancy's
                Ok, it's clear: there are buildings on my 'wish i could tear down in a day' list...more than I want to know in this city. However, It just seems that many of the naysayers forget that it really takes an influx of people/residents---NOT SUPERFLUOUS CURVED ARCHITECTURE (which would TOTALLY BE OUT OF CONTEXT in this situation) to establish a sense of community. Is this apartment building going to win any architecture awards? No. Are any of you that naive to expect this project to function more than a 4 story apartment building with commercial space along the thriving Virginia St corridor? Seriously???! What's your point in trying to discuss facade style here? IT'S AN INFILL PROJECT THAT WILL continue to add to the diverse (and not over the top expensive) nature of the area. If its superfluous curves, out of context starchitecture or over the top expensive materials you are looking for...go move to a larger city or Hollywood for that matter. Downtown needs the residential density WAY BEFORE better architecture. I can only hope we don't see ANY more cheap looking suburban developments like the ??? (8 story residential monstrosity at Virginia, East & South Street intersection)? But this development in no way makes me cringe or puke thinking about it. Focus on what's really important.
              • I agree, and disagree
                Not all great, artistic architecture has to have a CURVE. Great Architecture can come from a box. Think about solids and voids. However, I do agree this design isn't great.

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