MSA Round 2 plans pitched by local development teams

Two new proposals for the parking lot formerly known as Market Square Arena are shorter and less dramatic than plans for a 31-story tower that fell through last year. But each of the new sets of plans has its flourishes.

A proposal from Market Centre Partners would include a 30-foot-tall, L-shaped glass box that would light up atop a 21-story tower. The other proposal, from Market-Ability Partners, would feature a Target store with grass planted on the roof to conserve energy.

"People around here don't realize yet what a tidal wave the 'green' movement is across the country," said Tag Birge, vice president and market officer for Indianapolis-based Lauth, a member of the Market-Ability team. The group wants to build the city's first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certified office building.

The Market Centre team also would build to LEED standards. Its project–including the glass box with ever-changing colors–seeks to add a new architectural dimension to the city, said Gerry Kosene, managing partner of Kosene & Kosene Residential Inc., which is part of that team.

"We're trying to step up the quality of architecture in downtown Indianapolis," Kosene said. "We tried to bring something fresh."

City planners have begun a review of the proposals–both from teams of experienced local developers, both including land in addition to the four-acre MSA site, and both asking for incentives from the city.

The city would prefer not to provide a subsidy, but it might not have a choice: Both developers say their project won't work without one. The city has helped subsidize several new projects downtown of late, including $24 million toward the $100 million Conrad Indianapolis hotel and $48.5 million for a $250 million JW Marriott convention hotel–although the city justified incentives in those cases based on the economic impact of tourism.

Scott Truex, director of Ball State University's College of Architecture and Planning in Indianapolis, said he would have liked to see more than two options for the MSA site. But a short time frame–only a few months–made it difficult for some developers to come up with proposals, he said.

He wanted more time to review the plans before offering analysis about the architecture, but was impressed the developers are seeking LEED certification.

"That's a pleasant surprise," Truex said. "This elevates the awareness of why sustainable development is important and shows great leadership."

The Market Centre team is proposing a $130 million retail and residential complex, dubbed The Towers on Market, including a 21-story tower north of Market Street and a 15-story tower south of Market Street. The project would include 180 condo units, 240 apartments, 68,000 square feet of retail space, and 880 parking spaces.

Market-Ability Partners is proposing a $150 million retail, office and residential development that would include a 140,000-square-foot Target store and a 14-story tower with 40 condos and 105,000 square feet of office space. A six-story midrise portion would add another 160 condos over about 50,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. The buildings would have more than 600 parking spaces.

The projects would be built just east of the City-County Building on the former home of Market Square Arena, which the city tore down in 2001. A $140 million plan for the site that included a 31-story condo tower fell apart in November after the developer failed to pre-sell enough units to secure financing.

The city issued a new request for proposals in February with plans due April 18. Requirements included a tower of at least 14 stories, retail uses on the ground floor, and no pre-sales requirements. Both projects submitted meet those requirements.

Officials had expected more proposals, but were impressed by the prominent local companies involved in the two applications, said Justin Ohlemiller, a spokesman for the mayor. The city hopes to decide on one of the projects by June or July.

The Market Centre group consists of locally based Kosene & Kosene and Pedcor Cos., along with Columbus, Ohio-based Smoot Construction, which worked on the previous proposal for the MSA site. Smoot owns six adjacent acres including a 1,600-space parking garage and a former bank operations building that could be incorporated into the development project, possibly as a Target store. Locally based Duke Realty Corp. has signed on as contractor for the project.

The project was designed by New York-based Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects, the same firm that designed the Artsgarden.

The Market-Ability Partners group consists of Lauth, Mansur Real Estate Services Inc., Hearthview Residential Inc. and Venture Real Estate Services, all Indianapolis-based. The group's project will use a two-acre parking lot south of the MSA site that is controlled by Mansur. The project was designed by St. Louis-based Suttle Mindlin and locally based Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf.

Condo prices in the Market Centre project would range from $150,000 to $1 million for penthouses, with an average of $300,000. Rental units would go for $525 to $2,200 per month. Condos in the Market-Ability midrise portion would range from $110,000 to $500,000, and the tower units would range from low $200,000 to more than $2 million.

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