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REI, Chicago partner picked to build office building at IUPUI

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A partnership led by REI Real Estate Services plans to build a 100,000-square-foot office building on the IUPUI campus to house the university's School of Philanthropy and the offices of Chancellor Charles R. Bantz, among others.

The five-story, $22.9 million building would be constructed on university-owned land at the northeast corner of New York Street and University Boulevard that would be leased to the developer. IU would agree to lease office space in the building for 20 years, at which time the university would take ownership of the building. 

IUPUI office building for REWConstruction of the 100,000-square-foot office building might start this summer and wrap up next year. (Rendering: Ratio Architects)

Tom Morrison, IU's vice president for capital planning and facilities, said construction might start as soon as this summer and wrap up next year. But before construction can begin, the university needs to get approval from the Commission for Higher Education and the State Budget Committee.

The IU Trustees approved the plan Feb. 15, the culmination of a process that began last spring with a solicitation to developers that resulted in 18 proposals.

Morrison said IU was pleased with the high level of interest in what would be the first campus building at IUPUI resulting from a public-private partnership. Explaining why the university didn't pursue a publicly owned development, Morrison said: "We certainly have a need for the project, but it might not rise to the level of something the state would fund."

The building, designed by Ratio Architects, will allow IUPUI to vacate some off-campus space it leases. The School of Philanthropy, for example, would leave the Sigma Theta Tau nursing sorority office building at 550 W. North St. Another tenant in the proposed building, the School of Social Work, also leases space off campus.

The project also would provide office space for Indianapolis-campus administrators, including the chancellor, who now occupy what is known on campus as "the double wide," a pre-fabricated structure at Vermont Street and Beauty Avenue on the west end of campus. Morrison said the campus master plan calls for housing at that site.

The resolution passed by the IU Trustees anticipates the university would spend about $2.6 million a year to occupy the building, about $1.7 million of which would be rent.

That reliable income stream will be attractive to lenders that consider financing the project. REI Vice President Jeremy Stephenson said the developer is in the process of lining up a financial package and doesn't anticipate that becoming an obstacle.

REI's partner in the development is Chicago-based Vermillion Enterprises LLC, which has experience in higher education real estate.

REI hasn't previously worked with IU on a project but has participated in numerous public-private development deals, including the local Marriott and JW Marriott hotels and office space for Anthem Inc.

"Our track record hopefully makes us well-suited to follow through on what we've committed to here," Stephenson said.

 

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  • Design and parking
    The design has similarities to the Campus Center building which would be right next door according to the location in this article. However, that spot is currently a large parking lot. Is there any thought or insight on where they will move all of those parking spaces?
  • It's A Financing Alternative
    Yes, IUPUI would prefer to own their own buildings outright, but they have to get funding and also get specific approval from the state for any new construction project, even if they have the money for it. They don't have the money or the capital improvement financing capacity for this particular building as their money and financing is already reserved for other projects. Also, the state is more likely to approve a construction project that has a lower up-front cost. So, this project is a way to get private developers to finance the building construction and for the school to eventually take ownership of it through this lease-sale arrangement.
  • Interesting Mix
    This building is interesting. I'm not sure about the patio awning, eyebrow, fin thing. It's very Ratio-esq. Where does the extra $900k/year go for the facility if not to rent?? It seems like an institution like IUPUI would want to own their buildings, instead of leasing, especially when they're on their campus. Also, what is the full design team? REI, Vermillion, Ratio... ?

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