Rendering for Mass Ave project

March 7, 2008
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Mass Ave ProposalWhat do you think of the proposed replacement for a one-story, township-owned structure on Mass Ave? (Click for a larger version.) The $9 million plan, proposed by Riley Area Development Corp., calls for 25,000 square feet of first-floor retail space, a basement community center and 75 mostly low-income apartments on the upper levels. The project is being designed by locally based A2SO4. Check out an earlier post on the project here.
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  • Looks pretty good. It's definitely an improvement over what's there now. This project will help the north end immensely.

    I do have one criticism: Using so many colors on the bottom, particularly the purple on the streetlight banners, is very distracting and detracts from the presentation of the building. I understand that they're trying to convey a sense of vibrant street life, but it just comes off as crude. It's hard not to look away remembering only the colored shapes and cars at the bottom.
  • I like this proposal if this is going where I think it is. Where exactly is this going? Is this across Mass Ave from the Coca-Cola/IPS School Bus facility (south side of Mass Ave but east of College) where the pipe organ company used to be? That area needs more lower level retail space like this proposes. If they could just find a way to tie the south area of Mass Ave (3 Mass, Bazbeux's) with the North part (Agio, TOTS, Scholars and beyond), Mass Ave could finally take on that great urban walkable atmosphere many in Indy are longing for (similar to Columbus' Short North district) That block with the Fire House and the Barton Project Apartments, unfortunately sets up a natural barrier to linking the two parts of the avenue. You couldn't really block the firehouse access, but I could see some lower level 2 story retail spaces filling in the grass lawn of the Barton House making that 1 block diagonal walk much more pleasant. I'm not usually for getting rid of green spaces but I could see where some sort of low lying retail could benefit patrons of the Murat and the ACT and link Mass Ave into a urban gem. The Cultural Trail could've helped but is unfortunately bypassing that area by going across Walnut St.
  • I like it. Its high density and it goes with the flow of structures.
    A green roof never killed anyone though. I do think they should mix up their apartments a bit, some low-income, mid-income, and high-income.
  • I agree with Helen (which is rare, lol). The thing that most concerns me is the all lower income housing. Why not make it a mix of low income and market rate? I have nothing against low income citizens, mind you (I used to be one myself), but wouldn't a mix of incomes be better able to support all that proposed retail AND attract additional retail opportunities, as well?
  • ACTUALLY, lower-income in this area is DESPERATELY needed! Downtown as a whole is completely pricing out the little guy.

    I like this and CAN'T WAIT to see this U/C. The north end of Mass Ave is desperate for new residential and this is a good, solid design by a company that knows what it is doing in terms of providing residential options here. I would like to see more projects like this on Mass Ave, maybe at 5-6 stories. More solid infill residential is needed along Mass Ave to see it reach its fullest potential.

    I really hope that the intersection of College and Mass Ave's get more flat-iron shaped buildings to really make that the PREMIERE interesection of the area! Imagine buildings on each corner, instead of the 3 surface lots there now! I would think that a develoer has expressed interest in one of those???
  • Dave: You were right on the location. It's at 875 Mass Ave.
  • Well, my first reaction to this facade is negative. I think it could be much better and considering what I read from other comments on this blog, I am surprised by the good responses (althought few). I would like to see something really exciting, different, and maybe even risky in this market. Why not? It looks like something a developer would do, not a designer. I have no comment about the mix, at least right now.
  • The building and concept look great except for one missing element.
    There is no place to park on the Ave! There should not be any further
    developement on Mass. Ave. untill this issue is addressed. The city needs to get involved. Try finding a place to park any evening after 6:00PM. The half dozen parking slots shown in the photo are not going
    to work.
  • Larry, that is an issue but I don't think development should be halted for it. Underground parking should be put into this project until downtown has enough to where one can sustain a normal lifestyle without a car.
  • The parking argument is over-used and completely flawed.

    In any case, it's probably safe to assume ample parking will be provided as a part of this project. Can you imagine the developer not having a parking component, given the guarantee, as always, of neighborhood groups claiming parking/traffic will be an issue. God forbid anyone having to actually walk or ride a bike a block or two to get to their destination.
  • I'll restate my previous point that the concentration of low income people in one building is the wrong approach. I'm not sure what the rents actually will be. If this fell into the more low-moderate income range I might be more supportive. But if this is quasi-public housing, it is a bad idea.

    I completely support additional affordable housing in that area. But would prefer to see a lower proportion of low income units in a single building/concentrated area. If this were 70% market rate, 30% lower income, that would be a better mix. Perhaps it is hyperbole to suggest this would become the next Phoenix Apartments, but the track record of the last 50 years in what happens when you warehouse the poor in high density structures would suggest that's not the way to go.

    The structure itself appears surprisingly nice. It is urban in form, appropriately scaled, etc. I'm particular drawn to the horizontal relief on the front facade. Too often buildings like this end up being blank walls, making a street look like an empty canyon. This is particularly true in Indy with its overly strict downtown sign ordinances.

    Note the setback on the supper floors, the recessed patio door/balcony areas, the use of multiple textures, a varied cornice line, and the projecting faux awnings. A pure modernist might cringe, but I think this works. (I'd actually go for a hyper-modern structure too, but those tend to be much more difficult to pull off correctly.

    The major downside is what would appear to be the sign-band above the first floor. This looks cheesy and reminiscent of a strip mall.

    It also remains to be seen how this building appears when seen from other angles. As I've often noted, so often buildings are designed to look good only when seen from the front or photographed from one specific angle.
  • It looks as if the sign band/parapet above the retail units also serves as the wall/railing for a deck accessible from the 2nd-floor units. If so, that's a nice feature.
  • If you were a high/mid-range retailer, would you want low income
    housing situated in the floors above you? No. Low income housing
    is needed downtown, but not above retail space. Just west of this area
    you have high end housing. Why would anyone situate low and high
    income housing within one block of the other. How about meeting half
    way and putting affordable housing units in this building.
  • meh. looks like a design from 1992.
  • C'mon people, Low-income does not mean Section-8. This is a good development designed to bring in exactly the kind of people downtown needs more of: Normal, working-class people!

    Just because people are low-income doesn't mean they're uncivilized. We've all been there at one time or another iat the early stages of our careers.

    Some people work downtown, and would like to live there too, but can't because the majority of developments are targeted at the rich. There's nothing wrong with that, but we need some balance if we desire a true urban environment.
  • We need low income housing downtown like we need a hole in the head. Lugar Tower, 555 Mass, 901 Ft Wayne, aske the public housing police or IMPD how many runs they get to these places. These buildings have great views. Great views, but those smoking crack inside dont care. Say what you want to say, but I know Ive been there. If I had the option of placing my retail shop in a low income housing building or a different building Id choose a different building for sure. Build the low income housing, but not in a prime spot. I know Im not PC but its the truth and somtimes people need to hear the truth.
  • There is already a lot of low income housing in the area and that doesn't seem to hurt the retail market........
  • Indeed. The building that has Elements, Starbucks, Silver in the City, Hoaglin, and Global Gifts is subsidized housing aimed at students.

    So, you really can't assume Section 42 is automatically going to mean incongruous with street level retail and low life tenants, which is the underlying thing some of you are trying to say without saying it...
  • What do you mean by low income apartments???? I have a professional job, but can't afford to buy one of the condo's on the north end of Mass Ave. Does low income mean 1100 $ a month?
  • I would guess that the reason that this is low-income housing is two-fold:

    1) In order to take advantage of certain federal tax incentives and other financing structures a specific minimum percentage of the housing must be low-income. I would guess one or both of these things are being used to actually finance the project.

    2) As I stated on the previous post, the two entities mainly concerned with the development, Riley Area and Center Township Trustee, exist for improving access to affordable housing and poor relief.

    I think this project will turn out to be really great, especially when the Coca-Cola plant get redeveloped. As for Urbanophile's point about concentrating low income people, I agree. However, I don't really see that a being a significant issue here. The area as a whole has a mix of various housing types and prices, and I don't think that this building will turn into the ghetto or a project. Look at the Davlan and the Rink/Savoy. Both are great affordable housing projects.
  • Also, the comparison of this project to Lugar or Barton Towers is a bit ridiculous. Look at the project.
  • This is a 9 million dollar building, people. 9 MILLION!! Not very expensive so you get what you get. Be thankful, young intellects, someone decided enough is enough and brought our valuation points down to get those tax incentives, but also, in theory, to lower the astronomical price point margins that have failed to fully saturate the market. All this best explained in our nation's abrupt halt on new construction due to absurd overpricing and misinformed market studies. In five years this building and the Ralston Square project will be slight but notable strokes on the beautiful face of future downtown indy. So, with all this...its not a landmark and 750-1000 dollars is low income when you live down the street from million dollar condos nowadays.
  • I need to go see this site...I too can't not visuallize the location of this...is it east of College? If it is more power to them. The only thing I can think of as better is if something could be done to use the Coca-Cola building as an arts center in some way. Would that be amazing for Mass. Are there any plans for the Coca Cola plant?
  • Additionally I agree...for some reason...the people and charm of Mass Ave...for some reason are being turned over to the new elite.
  • Ok, I check this out at lunch. You could put just about anything there and it would be a step up from what it is now.
  • Most of the beautiful structures on Mass ave weren't built by wealthy elite people. They were mostly built by middle class german merchants.
    I don't think we should stop property values but at the same time its good to at the least have a mix of middle class and upper class.

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