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Whitsett proposes 86-unit downtown apartment project

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The Whitsett Group LLC is planning to expand its portfolio of affordable and mixed-income housing with an 86-unit development at 1010 Central Ave.

The $7.2 million project, to be financed with affordable-housing tax credits, involves retrofitting the three-story former Central Restaurant Products building to accommodate 50 one- and two-bedroom apartments. A loading dock that projects from the north side of the building would be razed and replaced with a four-story structure housing 36 one- and two-bedroom units.

Because the property is in the St. Joseph historic district, plans must be approved by the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission. IHPC is scheduled to hear the proposal at its March 2 meeting.  

Whitsett Group will find out Feb. 24 if the state will award tax credits for the project. It needs that approval and IHPC’s nod before closing on the purchase of the building, which is owned by ADLI Development and was listed most recently with Ambrose Property Group for $2.4 million. The 68,000-square-foot building had also been offered for lease.

ADLI is owned by Rick Weinstein, who once owned Central Restaurant Products, a wholesaler that moved to Georgetown Road in 2005 and was sold in 2009.

Whitsett principal Joe Whitsett said he hopes to close on the purchase of the building in early June and start construction in time for a June 2012 opening.

To qualify for the tax credits, the majority of units in the building must be priced for renters who qualify for affordable housing. Those units—68 spread between both buildings—would be priced at between $375 and $750 a month. The remaining 18 units would rent for between $950 and $1,200 a month.

Whitsett said all of the market-rate units would be in the existing building, which opened in 1900 and for decades was a clothing factory. “It has great architecture,” including large, exposed beams and high ceilings, said Whitsett.

Whitsett Group has been a prolific developer and acquirer of affordable housing since its founding in 2007. It owns or manages 336 mostly one- and two-bedroom units in seven developments in Indianapolis, Lafayette and Michigan City, according to its website. The majority of units—212—are in Indianapolis. It has another 283 units under construction, 216 of which are here.

The Central Avenue project would add to that total and give Whitsett a larger presence in the downtown neighborhood it has operated in since December 2009. That’s when the company bought the troubled 707 E. North Street building, which was under construction and slated to house around 20 condos priced in the million-dollar range. Whitsett bought the building out of foreclosure and converted it into 40 apartments, some of which rent for market rates. The firm’s offices are on the top floor of the building.

Apartments in the 707 building are fully leased. Whitsett said 1010 Central would target the same demographic—primarily downtown workers.

“The downtown rental market is very strong,” said Whitsett. He said the building on Central is in a prime location because it is adjacent to the historic, residential neighborhoods of St. Joe and Chatham Arch and close to Massachusetts Avenue.

The architect for the project is Mark Smith of MAS Architects.

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  • Horrible
    I have been extremely unimpressed and disgusted with my involvement in this entire process. My gf and I have applied for housing in this project. During the past 2.5 months, we have been "accepted," paid our deposit, packed our clothes, and filled out every necessary form they have given us. Our move in date has been pushed back four separate times at this point and we have just had to go through another clearing process that was given to us less than 24 hours before our move in date. I have left over 5 voicemails and countless emails in an effort to reach anyone there and have failed to do so. Their communication with me has been utterly terrible and they have avoided me more impressively than any governmental agency I have had the unfortunate pleasure to work with. I wish everyone here that rents the best of luck. They are nice apartments but you will have an extremely difficult time getting a hold of anyone. Just hope they take your money and you never have to talk to them.
  • where are u
    finding a section 42 housing. is very hard am on fixed income need to find out where these section 42's are. who has them and where. please answer seems to be the biggest housing secret ever!
  • Great!
    Another brilliant move by this young company. I have seen most of the developments and they are always top of the line. They also work with an incredible property management group.
  • Always wished....
    Always wished that building would be converted to condos - it's the only building left down town that would make great lofts.
  • Location, Location, Location
    If it's a great builing and in a good location, I wouldn't care who lived there. That is why their Mass Ave building is so popular.
    Just because someone makes less than the average, that wouldn't make them a bad neighbor.
  • Thanks, Helps Some
    So I'd get to pay market rate to live with a bunch of kids that will be coming and going at all hours? Thanks, but I lived in the fraternity house in college, and as long as I'm paying the going price, I'd just as soon live next to folks with similar lifestyles to mine. And the bartender down the hall gets to enjoy the same amenities that I do, but at less $$$ per square foot? That doesn't really appeal to me either.

    I guess I'm still missing something.
  • Affordable
    The project is not Section 8, but Section 42 affordable housing. I believe it means you can't earn more than 70% of average income to live the in the subsidized apartments. This would include many of the hospitality industry or young professionals just getting started that often make a city work and give it that "hip" feel. A good example of this mixed-income project is the Riley Area Development Corp's Davlan building above the Starbucks on Mass Ave.
  • Please Help
    How does mixed-income work? Why would I pay "market rate" rents when the folks down stairs are straight out of Section 8 housing? Perhaps I do not understand the term properly.

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