Skywalk adds architectural element to senior-housing project

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An affordable housing project for seniors will include an unusual feature—a skywalk connecting two buildings across the street from one another.

The two four-story structures, at the southwest and northwest corners of 30th and Clifton streets, will be built as part of a $10.7 million partnership between the not-for-profit Local Initiatives Support Corp. and local low-income housing developer BWI Development & Management Inc.

BWI President Gary Hobbs said the skywalk will be the first of its kind in the city for that type of development.

Clifton senior apartments 15colThe skywalk will help seniors avoid street traffic when crossing from one building to the next. (Image courtesy BWI Development & Management Inc.)

Besides its architectural significance, the skywalk serves a significant purpose. It will allow residents with vehicles in the south building to access a parking lot on the north side of the street without dodging traffic.

That area of 30th Street, sandwiched between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street and the Central Canal, can use the investment, LISC Executive Director Bill Taft said.

“It’s a neighborhood that’s had a lot of foreclosure and vacancy,” he said. “There’s no place near this site that has had this scale of investment in a long time, so I think it will make a big difference.”

The project, dubbed Clifton Square, will feature 57 one- or two-bedroom units spread between the two buildings. Monthly rents will range from $266 to $543 for a one bedroom and from $319 to $630 for a two bedroom, depending upon income.

Developers also are targeting 6,500 square feet on the ground levels for a health and wellness center. Hobbs of BWI said he’s had conversations with major health care providers, including Wishard Health Services and IU Health, in addition to a couple of physician practices.

The building on the northwest corner, an old bank that last housed the United Northwest Area Community Development Corp., will be renovated. The one across the street to the south will be demolished.

BWI is in the process of purchasing the two vacant and dilapidated buildings and should close by the beginning of November. The project should be completed by December 2014.

LISC provided BWI a $400,000 loan to cover pre-development costs and is making a $9.5 million investment in the project through its National Equity Fund. BWI also received $1 million in federal tax credits administrated by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.

Federal tax credits are the main subsidy available for new affordable housing, but the competition for those is fierce. For 2013, the state housing authority received 61 applications throughout Indiana requesting more than $51.7 million in tax credits. The authority awarded credits totaling just $14 million for 22 projects. In Indianapolis, Clifton Square was one of only two projects to receive the credits.

“We feel that this project will be a major catalyst for continued development in that particular area,” Hobbs said.

The architect on the project is locally based The Architecture Studio Inc.

Hobbs also is working on a $10 million housing project at 1415 N. Pennsylvania St. Plans call for adding a fourth story to a vacant building.

Called Penn Place, the project will cater to homeless residents with serious mental health and substance abuse problems.


  • Agree with Paul 100%
    It's already a signalized intersection at the street level. Why isn't that sufficient? And Chris, if you don't see the irony of criticizing someone for using "ergo" instead of "therefore", then following it with "quit focusing on the little details", I'm not sure you're ready for the big leagues....
  • The City Can Pay For It
    Paul, your tone is petulant and does not help make your argument more persuasive. First, drop the use of "ergo" unless you are playing the character of an old college professor from the 1950's. There is no need for Latin when we all are communicating in English on this forum. If you want to say "therefore," just use say it. Second, don't quibble about minor details. Parking lot or parking garage--who cares? My main point was that the skywalk is intended for the senior citizen residents to cross the street to get to their parked cars (or their guests parked cars). Third, a senior citizen can be slow in crossing the street, but still capable of driving safely, or they may have relatives or friends who regularly drive them places and need a place to park their car when they come to pick them up. Fourth, developers are in the business to do one thing, and one thing only, and that is to make money. No developer is going to waste money building an unnecessary skywalk because that would simply eat into the potential profit from the project. Either the skywalk is required because of regulations associated with subsidized low-income housing, the city requested it be built, or the developer's project feasibility study demonstrated that constructing the skywalk was necessary to build a successful housing development at that location. Finally, it is not the job of the developer to build streetscape enhancements, aside from any agreed upon mitigating measures required to get city approval for the project. The primary responsiblity for maintaining safe, attractive, and accessible streets and sidewalks falls on the city. Indianapolis always seems to have money available when the Pacers or Colts stick their hands out, or when it comes to building things like cricket fields, so I would assume the city can find the funds to make streetscape improvements at this intersection if such improvements are needed.
  • Gotta go outside sometime
    The article says the skywalk is to aid access to the parking lot north of the building, ergo, there's apparently no parking garage, and residents will have to go outside to get to their cars. I understand that this is for senior citizens, but if they can't successfully get across the street, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest they might not be able to safely navigate an automobile. I don't know what the skywalk will cost, but I'd bet that money could be spent on things that might actually help improve the neighborhood (streetscape enhancements) instead of pretending that a skywalk over 30th Street will somehow help revitalize the area. If they said it was just so that neighbors could visit each other without going out in the elements, I probably wouldn't have lamented it too much. But no, it's Indianapolis, so the emphasis is always on getting to/from cars and going everywhere in cars without ever walking along or across a public street.
    • You Need To Consider That's It's Senior Housing
      I don't think the developer necessarily said it was unsafe to cross the current intersection, rather the skywalk is intended to allow the senior citizens living in the complex easier access to the parking garage. Many (though certainly not all) senior citizens cannot move as quickly or as easily as younger able-bodied individuals, and it can be difficult for them to cross a typical busy city intersection. As for who would want to live there? Answer: Low to moderate income senior citizens who probably don't have a lot of other housing options, and who would be very glad to have a nice, secure, comfortable and affordable place to live.
    • Agree
      The skywalk is a bad idea, and I wouldn't describe either the design shown in the rendering or the skywalk as "architecturally significant." Might be included due to arcane Section 42 program requirements. Money would be better spent on just about anything else, including nighttime security patrols. Hopefully this will be a stimulus for other new development, but it's not going to happen because of ~60 new low- to moderate income residents.
    • not the first...
      There was a skywalk that used to connect the Barton Towers on East Street.
    • Abandoning the pedestrian environment
      If this skywalk is really needed because it's unsafe to cross 30th Street, what does that say about our City? The last I checked, 30th & Clifton is a signalized intersection with two lanes of traffic and one lane for parking. Are the developers of this project really of the belief that residents will not be able to cross a ~28-foot wide street at a signalized intersection? Who would want to live here if they felt it was unsafe to step outside and cross the street?

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