Apartments no longer part of plans for Virginia Avenue lot

May 15, 2014
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A $6 million mixed-use project that called for 57 apartments and 3,100 square feet of retail space in Fountain Square won’t be built after all.

Milhaus Development LLC filed plans with the city in September for a variance to build the four-story structure at 1015 Virginia Ave., expecting to buy the lot. But the owner of the property instead sold the half-acre parcel south of Buchanan Street to Reverie Estates after Milhaus backed away because of environmental concerns with the property, an executive at Milhaus said.

virginia ave carlot
                              225pxReverie President Chris Piazza declined to disclose terms of the deal but said it closed May 8. The land contains a vacant building last occupied by a used-car dealership.

Reverie has no plans to build apartments on the lot and will seek approval for a scaled-down development that calls for restoring the historic garage and converting it into a fresh-food market. Piazza said he’s in discussions with a potential operator of what would be called Wildwood Market.

The paved lot surrounding the garage would provide space for an urban-food and fashion truck park in which the trucks would lease spaces during lunch and dinner to serve food and sell clothes.

The market is hoping to offer a small selection of beer and wine to not only serve patrons but also visitors to the food and fashion park. The grocery also plans to provide an online ordering and bicycle delivery service to downtown offices and residences, Piazza said.

Food trucks have become part of the urban fabric in many cities. Food and fashion truck parks now are becoming popular in such trend-setting locales as Portland, San Francisco and Austin, Texas.

“It’s worked in other cities, and some cities are smaller markets than Indianapolis,” said Matt Kornmeyer, owner of Scratch Streetfood LLC and Indy Food Truck Alliance LLC.

The Alliance and Piazza are in discussions about collaborating on the park. Both the market and the park could be open by late summer, Piazza said.

Piazza’s Reverie Estates is redeveloping the former Central State Hospital campus on West Washington Street, working to convert four historic buildings at what’s now known as Central Greens.

The redevelopment of the administration building into student housing should be ready by the fall, and Piazza hopes to attract a brewery to occupy the kitchen and dining building, he said. Other plans call for an event center and office and industrial space.

Reverie is developing the $5 million project with the assistance of $3 million in financing from LISC.
 

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  • Let's hear it for low density!
    Yay to downgrades! Now, could someone please explain what on god's green earth makes this garage "historic"? Is it a contributing building in the Virginia Avenue historic district? Nope, didn't think so. Clearly this would be an ideal example of the need for a public-private partnership to mitigate against the environmental concerns on this site, which a developer cannot realistically manage and still expect a good IRR. Since that doesn't seem to exist, we're going to get more mediocrity in Fountain Square. Too bad. Plenty of other vacant old car lots in the neighborhood are likely to suffer the same fate--meanwhile, the current Euclidean zoning allows for a brand new gas station to be constructed just to the south, on Shelby Street.
    • Yes!
      I'm so happy to see this use being proposed at this location. The garage is a sweet little example of mid-century modern and I for one am glad to see it restored. Kudos, Reverie.
    • environmental concerns?
      Just curious, what were the "environmental concerns" with the site?
    • Glad
      I have to laugh at the comment above about getting "more mediocrity in Fountain Square". As if a $6 million dollar, 57 unit apartment building was going to be any but another cheap, ugly, tinker-toy building. I think that this is a great use of the space for now.
    • Breath Sassafras!
      Does the building remind you of a Speedway station? Even the angle of the building is different and while sacrificing land makes it look retro when aesthetics were part of most designs. Maria, most old filling stations can have ground contamination from oil/gasoline.
    • don't hyperventilate...
      The article describes a temporary use, Sass, and a very good and fitting one, at that.
    • Gas station on Shelby
      Is there a new gas station going in nearby on Shelby? If so, which lot is that? Either way, I'd agree with Sassafras that the Indy Rezone proposal needs to completely change the way gas stations are permitted by right on most commercially zoned properties in our urban neighborhoods. Regarding this proposal, it sounds interesting. I don't get uber excited about buying things from trucks, but I'm not sure why anyone would be against creating a fresh food market there.
    • Finally!
      Yes! Finally, Indy is using some of the vacant lots in up-and-coming or vibrant areas to house food trucks. It is one of my favorite things about Austin, TX.
    • Um, Leasing a Space?
      Why would the vibrant food truck community pay this owner to lease a parking space when there are a plethora of free parking areas available that they already take advantage of throughout Indy? I'm all for filling in the food desert that encompasses most of the downtown area, but the idea that space will be leased by food trucks seems like a stretch.
      • Food Trucks
        Food Trucks pay to be on Georgia Street on Fridays. Food Trucks pay to be at First Friday on Mass Ave. Parking is an absolute premium in Fountain Square, so you better believe if it is priced well enough and the crowds are there, Food Trucks will gladly pay to have an guaranteed spot.
      • "Environmental Concerns"
        Having sat through a presentation at a neighborhood association meeting in the area, I can tell you "environmental concerns" was not the major issue. The major issue among our group was the soul-less design and potential parking issues. Yes, we would rather have something there than an old garage, but we also don't want a boring, uninspired beige box in the heart of quirky Fountain Square. Either make it "pop" with color or architectural elements or consider the history of the area.
      • Addendum
        And I should add I was referring to Milhaus, not Reverie.
      • Great use of an old building
        I don't understand why people's first thought is to tear everything down. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! If you aren't sure of putting a fresh food market in an old service station, I urge you to check out Locally Grown Gardens on 54th at the Monon.
      • Great Idea
        Memphis, TN is doing something similar to this, their version is called "The Truck Stop" and while there is no existing building there, they are building a 2 story building out of metal shipping container with a deck on top that will house a restaurant and hookups with water and electricity for food trucks to park in the lot. Guest will then be able to use open air seating from the building if they like also. Neat idea and it is in a upcoming area like Fountain Square. Here is a link...hopefully the site will open. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2013/nov/06/midtown-eatery-would-blend-restaurant-food-and/
      • oxygen reaching the brain
        While I work on learning how to breathE, I'd like the others here, amidst their euphoria, to please point out where this new use is temporary. I'm seeing reference "no plans to build apartments" and fears from everyone that the design will be bad. That might be a well-reasoned fear, considering it IS Milhaus, but nothing a design review process cannot change. Something tells me it's more about more about density, since all the fearmongering surrounds such notions as "parking is a premium in Fountain Square"--again suggesting that the complainers have never driven a car in an East Coast city, Chicago, or heck even Bloomington. Wake up: if it's hard to find a parking space (and in Fountain Square it might take at most five minutes ONLY on First Fridays) then that is a flattering sign of how vibrant and desirable your neighborhood is...not the opposite! While the environmental concerns may have been the first nail in this project's coffin, the rural sentiment that still prevails would have been the second.
      • Parking?
        Parking should not be a concern at all in Fountain Square. There are two huge lots just south of Morris available for parking. Even on the busiest of nights in the square there is plenty to go around. Personally I would like to see us avoid all the losses from removing meters for the e-cars made up by putting meters down Virginia. I'm a resident of Fountain Square and live about two blocks away from this spot. I think it would be great to have apartments in this spot to help provide more customers for all the small businesses we have. There has been a lot of trouble keeping retail in the Square (i.e. Rogue and Indyswank). I love the bars and restaurants, but there could be so much more.
      • an example...
        Here's an example of a restored service station: http://www.abdesignstudioinc.com/article/3794-before-and-after-zoom-motors-santa-barbara
      • Restaurants comments
        I have reached out to the restaurants in Fountain Square and asked how they feel about this project. The majority have an attitude toward Food Trucks, they don't make the same investment that a Restaurant makes in a community but it would be better than parking in front of their front door. There is one concern and that is who would be the licence holder for the sale of Alcohol? A grocer can not sell an open bottle and a food truck I don't believe can either. Can someone help answer this question. This is a personal concern to sell open bottles of Alcohol and walk around? How about a Farmers Market?
        • Liquor License
          Linton, the liquor license can likely be held by the grocery/market if they are selling prepared foods and have the appropriate seating, which may be shared with the food truck seating. They would not be able to have retail liquor sales, as it would be an on-site consumption permit. They may be able to sell smaller amounts for carryout from behind the "bar" only. I'm thinking of Goose the Market here, as they have on-site liquor sales downstairs in their little eatery but are primarily considered a grocery/market.
        • Linton Calvert
          Linton, thanks for all you have done for Fountain Square! It is a wonderful neighborhood that is getting better every day. It wouldn't have been possible without your vision!
        • Another example of a gas station reno
          Here's another example of a great gas station renovation from Minneapolis. Wise Acre Eatery is in a station very similar to the one in Fountain Square. Save the station building and make it wonderful! https://maps.google.com/maps?oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&q=minneapolis&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x52b333909377bbbd:0x939fc9842f7aee07,Minneapolis,+MN?=us&ei=Tf55U7K8EdaVqAbtyIHQAQ&ved=0CLIBELYDMA8
        • retro station
          http://nextstl.com/2014/04/old-gas-station-shaw-rehabbed-catering-facility-event-space-2232-thurman/ Another cool, repurposed gas station in STL.
        • And Another...
          Garage Bar in Louisville: http://www.garageonmarket.com/site/happenings/
        • Near Southside Development
          I, for one, am glad to see this space finally being developed. Now, if the trend would keep coming down Shelby towards Garfield Park and the University of Indianapolis. Look for a new eatery opening soon in Garfield Park by the end of June in the former Garfield Pub or "The Garf". As a near southside resident since 2002, we need more amenities south of Fountain Square including restaurants, fresh food markets or farmer's markets, boutiques, etc. If anyone out there has development ideas for Garfield Park/UIndy - please inbox on facebook at Garfield Neighbors Neighborhood Association or garfieldparkneighbors@gmail.com. Thanks!
        • Garage Examples
          Matt - the garage rennovations are excellent. As a former Louisville resident, I can confirm that the Garage on Market is excellent and a huge success to the area know as Nu Lou which was formerly an area very similar to Fountain Square/Garfield Park. Great shares!

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