Young developer, towering dream

September 10, 2007
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Marquis TowerThe odds are long, but Jaron Garrett isn't giving up on an ambitious plan to replace several blighted buildings along Washington Street with a twisting glass-and-steel apartment tower. The 25-story project faces loads of obstacles, most notably an uphill quest for financing and Garrett's inexperience. He's only 24. After a little pressing, Garrett puts the chances of completion of the $30 million project at 79 percent. But he's ready to sign over his stake, as long as he can stay on as a "junior" developer. Garrett’s company, JJ Marquis Investment Group LLC, already has agreed in principle to contracts that give him control of two vacant buildings he needs: 42 and 44 E. Washington St., which sit immediately west of a Panda Express restaurant. He also is negotiating contracts on buildings that house Panda Express and H&R Block. For more information, check out the full story that appeared in Saturday's IBJ. What do you think of the proposal? Can he pull it off?
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  • Man it's about time to see some exciting architecture around here. I sure hope he can pull it off. I've often thought that corner was highly under-utilized. Go Jaron!!
  • I work right by that corner and literally everytime I walk down Washington Street I notice the blight and keep wondering when it will be redeveloped. This is the kind of stuff that will help keep invigorating downtown. Good luck to him!
  • I'll give him credit for coming up with a unique design. Obviously this is an ambitious guy. However, this project will never happen. How can you have a 25-story apartment tower with no parking? Not to mention, this project will cost much more than $30M. Assuming that the building footprint is 6,000 SF, that creates a building square footage of 150,000 SF, and there is NO way that a building like that can be built of $200/SF. While I would love to see a building go up on this site, this is the farthest project from reality currently proposed for downtown.
  • Look up...there's pie in the sky!
  • Good going, Jaron!! This fellow has a vision, and the ambition to go forward. I hope it works out. At this stage of the game, there's room for modifications, like parking.

    It's great to get someone in to shake things up, to spur others on out of complacency. In all areas of life, we can get too comfortable in the way things are -- the status quo.

    Keep moving, Jaron!
  • Hey Troy, not every project proposed downtown needs parking. The whole point of living downtown is to not have to use a car everyday.
  • I'm definately keeping my fingers crossed for this guy. I think he could eventually pull it off, it just might take some time. The mere fact that the building is APARTMENTS is a great step. I'm sure that building would be at almost full occupancy.
  • Good luck! This place needs some more FUN...
  • This design is not original. It's just a scaled down version of the turning torso in Sweden.
  • I too wish he could pull it off but...

    - you have to have a car in this city (at least most do)... this won't happen w/o parking.

    - the pricing of the project is all off!

    - WORST OF ALL: Jaron: why did you let the cat out of the bag before being assembled? That IBJ article also stripped you of any leverage with Land owners, investors etc.

    Good luck but not holding my breath...
  • Cityfan, it is not remotely realistic to think that anyone can live in Indy and not have a car. No residential development can go forward without parking. Hopefully that will be able to be taken care of, but I won't be holding my breath waiting for this to get built.
  • Gotta question why this got a front page story. Once he has assembled the properties, then let's talk. That has been the struggle to date. And is Panda Express going to rescind it's lease?

    This looks like it's a story written by someone who's office overlooks those crappy buildings. Oh, wait, that's you Cory. Sorry.
  • I'm not holding my breath on this one. Would love to see it happen, and regardless of what you think of the design, it certainly beats the other highrise apartments downtown (i.e. Riley Towers). If this goes through, I'll run around buck naked at the ribbon cutting. Promise.

    On the bright side, this, on top of all the other high-rise proposals, demonstrates that developers are at least showing an interest in downtown Indy. Props for that...wouldn't have happened at all 10 years ago!!! If even two or three of the current proposals go through, it'll still be a HUGE win for Indianapolis.
  • Thank God someone in this city has come forward with a vision for interesting architecture. Best wishes to Jaron. I hope his dream becomes a reality and he won't listen all of the backward thinking naysayers who love to hear and read their own opinions.
  • I second Ray. And to the poster that said this is unoriginal. Who cares? I'd rather have interesting unoriginal architecture than the original crap that is being built in downtown right now and in the past.
  • Every architectural and art style and movement started from someone's original idea. Trends and fads have their sources. That's not to say that Spiral will go viral, but c'mon!

    Oh, how the pendulum swings away from oft-posted complaints of industrial park blandness!
  • Dogg: I appreciate your points. In the story, we were careful to point out all the obstacles facing the project. Even in the headline, we described it as a towering dream. But we also thought it was unusual enough and dramatic enough that people would be interested. You asked about Panda Express: My understanding from several sources is they have been trying for months to get out of their lease there.
  • I think the bottom line is that it is great to see the effort put forth to do something so innovative in downtown Indy. It may never happen but it will raise some eyebrows to be sure and get people talking and thinking. I also like the idea of apartments rather than condos. It will get the younger crowd down to Indy and they will spur the demand for more projects like this.
  • Front page lead article!?! My first reaction was that it must be a slow news week; then I thought you turned your calendar to the wrong page and it really isn't April 1. There seems to be so many things wrong with this story as news. Cory, I will give you credit to challenge some of the validity of this project. However, I think it should have been sent to page 48 or further back. That corner deserves much better and there are so many more architects and developers in town who can do better.
  • Color me free, there are so many architects and developers in town who can do better?? Show me ONE.

    Stories like this one are what keep me subscribing to the IBJ.
  • Let's give this Garrett guy some support! Come on, it's not often someone has the great vision this guy does.
  • Take a moment to compare this building to others on the four corners surrounding the circle before you say 'this corner deserves better'. Obviously, this is purely my opinion:

    - Chase tower is mediocre at best, and with how bad they are at replacing those lights on the top, it usually looks really trashy at night.

    - I don't think the Conrad is that bad, but still nothing special. Just a building.

    - I think Market tower is the best of the bunch, but that doesn't say much. At least it looks better than the Chase tower at night.

    -The Sheraton is perhaps the biggest eyesore downtown after Riley Towers and the Old National building with its huge (avant-guard?) xenon light stick on top.

    If this is what people thought the other three corners deserved, who knows what will happen to this one if this guy gets turned away... You can't be so choosy when you're dealing with high-rise development in Indy. When something like this comes along, you gotta jump on it!!
  • Let's get this baby built!
  • It would be awesome if the parking structure on the bottom of this could be circular like the Marina City in Chicago or our parking garage at Indy International!
  • To indyguy, ianeck, Erich R.H., E.R. Hasselbusch and Cory, and etc. I got an idea...let's put on a show. All we need is an old barn, but maybe we have one. Why not have a design competition for this site? IBJ could meet with the City and the Indianapolis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and discuss the possibility of a quick design competition; not one that is real with a developer and financial backing, but something young architects could find appealing. Maybe it would be open to artists; or anyone. Maybe there would be a very small prize; maybe not any prize but mention in IBJ and a photograph from the roof. A real free thinking competition. It doesn't even have to be able to be built. This usually is appealing to young architects and designers but maybe even one of the old successful designers at one of the Indianapolis' fine architecture firms would be interested. That would be good. Maybe this would help get some talk about this site and the possibilities it could offer in town. Just maybe.
  • ...Or why not just have REAL design competitions for buildings in Indy just like the city used to 100 years ago when the Soldiers & Sailors Monument was built. Just like other cities STILL do.
  • color me free- YES a design competition would be really cool wouldn't it? However, remember that the mayor just passed off the Market Square development as not being a major priority. This is funny given it's prime location just off the square and given that the 10-year anniversary of Market Square Arena shutting its doors is rapidly approaching. I don't think he'd even notice any suggests about this site.

    Also, remember the recent results when more than one design was competing. We got the JW and the circle truss. Now, I don't think either one of these is THAT bad, but only the latter was truly part of a 'competition' and a poorly advertised one at that. I'm not being contrary here because I think you're absolutely right, but how do we get the city to back a serious competition? And how do we get major architects and developers to show an interest in Indianapolis?
  • Same way Columbus got major architects interested: commission 'em with private money (hello Lilly Endowment and CICF) and build what they draw.
  • Yes, a real competition would be great but I agree that this city has not done anything along this line as long as I can remember. Commissions, that is what keeps the design community paying its expenses. But considering what the track record is here, would a non-city committee (maybe IBJ or one of the museums or arts groups or maybe Historic Landmarks Foundation along with the American Institute of Architects) be good to approach with the idea? At this moment I'm thinking about the Late Entries to the Chicago Tribune Tower Competition from 1980 (the original was in 1922). This was organized by Stanley Tigerman and Stuart Cohen in Chicago and although it was only for invited architects, it did produce some interesting designs. Of course, most were in fun. That competition called for one perspective drawing. It was art and it was creative and it was fun. (I like fun.) Cory, if you read this ask Tom what he thinks; can we get support from IBJ? If there is real interest from others, can we keep this dialogue going? I have to go to work now.
  • Dear IBJ,

    I would like to put up a 500 story building at an undermined location. I have no financing, no development history, no land but I have a cool picture.

    I will expect my front page story to be in the IBJ next week.

    Thank you,

    The Dreamer
  • Dear Dreamer,

    I eagerly await your cool picture. Can't wait to see how you fit 500 stories in the frame.
  • Let me dig in my collection of coffee-table books, Dreamer. I'm sure I can find a rendering of Frank Lloyd Wright's Mile High City skyscraper/development concept.

    THAT would surely satisfy everyone longing for great architecture in Indy.
  • To waste ink on this story is an insult to those people who actually work in real estate for a living. Why not run stories about people solving the energy crisis through perpetual motion machines? Anyone can propose something unrealistic. The true test is to propose something that can be accomplished while also bettering our city. Lots of people are doing that now by risking their own money in actual new developments, yet this poser gets the front page.
  • This is great, I have read the comments and I see so much envy within the lines...it is so sad. People are so envious of this young man's proposal actually succeeding that they are speaking against him in every way that they think, but no one has thought about how smart this young man really is...
    He lacks the needed experience...so he desires to partner with an experienced developer
    He lacks the needed equity... so he partners with equity partners

    Alot of you naysayers are ignorant to not recognize how smart he really is that is why even if the building does not get built he still has gained so much more than any of you currently have...just my thought one developer to another. Real Broker said that he s making a living in real estate...his post shows exactly how much he wishes that was him working on this at 24...you gotta admit he has at 24 what many of us didn't at 34...too bad we can't admit that in front of our wives
  • Rockford home builder, bravo on an excellent post. Many of these naysayers just want more of the status quo (more than likely because they work for the companies that give Indianapolis so much pitiful architecture).
  • Indy has a boring skyline. This would help change that! I hope it happens.
  • I would love to see a building like this downtown. . . . . I hope he finds an equity partner! Indianapolis needs more buildings like this and who cares if its modeled after another building in another country. . . .

    It's really cool to read the great comments towards a project like this in the blog, not only to the innovative architecture but also to someone with a vision like this, far-fetched or not. BRING IT ON!
  • Nothing brings the haters and the racists out of the woodworks like an inspiring, thought-provoking proposal from a young, black man.
  • Sara - It has zero to do with him being a young, black man. Race has nothing to do it. Grow up.
  • Though I do agree with the fact that our city does have some problem areas but I think that this is 100% a HORRIBLE idea. I know it's cheaper to demo and build new than renovate, but the last thing that Indianapolis needs downtown are new condos, apartments, or housing. I've lived downtown for 7 going on 8 years now and I can attest that there are popular buildings that have /many/ vacant apartments. The demand is simply not there. Indy's downtown scene is a joke - the sidewalks role up at dusk and there's barely any real traffic. Plus, no one can justify paying outrageous prices to live downtown. I mean, look at the failure of the Market Towers... And if history hasn't proven enough, Riley Towers? And the cultural trail along Alabama Street was the worst allocation of funds since the city approved the building of the new library. Why not fix up the broken side walks and horrible 1970's landscaping that's just one block away?
    Start adding more culture and things to do downtown first, build something that will make people come down town first. Sports attractions aren't for everyone, and yet not everyone likes plays and orchestra. Cities like Chicago, Dallas and San Diego offer so much more for their residents.
    *sigh* this city simply doesn't get it and I cringe at the thought they never will....

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