Wholesale District developments would replace parking lots

Now that most of the existing buildings along South Meridian Street downtown have been rehabbed for condos, restaurants or
hotels, developers are eyeing surface parking lots.

Local companies filed plans recently to replace two such gaps in the Wholesale District streetscape with mixed-use projects.

Jupiter Land Group Inc. has proposed a five-story, 26,000-square-foot building for 115 S. Meridian St., a parking lot between
the five-story John Bright & Son building, which was recently converted to condos, and the three-story Wiles Coffin &
Co. building, home to Krieg Brothers Religious Supply. The plans call for underground parking, street-level retail and four
condos, each occupying a full floor of the new building.

A few blocks south, Sideline Properties LLC is pitching a two-story, 12,000-square-foot building for 239 S. Meridian St.,
a lot between buildings that house Ice Ultra Lounge and Crackers Comedy Club. The $1.1 million plan includes an outdoor party
deck behind a second-floor facade. Plans also show a Hot Box pizza restaurant on the first floor.

The small-scale projects should be easier to pull off than several large projects in the works because there's less risk
of saturating the market with too many units, said Brian Epstein, president of locally based Urban Space Commercial Properties.

The largest proposed development in the neighborhood is Penn Centre, a project with about 400 hotel rooms, 64 condos and
up to six restaurants proposed by J. Greg Allen for Pennsylvania Street between Maryland and Georgia streets. The smaller,
infill projects nearby should be able to coexist, Epstein said.

"I think they're both good sites," Epstein said of the Meridian Street parking lots slated for development.
"There's definitely a scarcity of first-floor retail space downtown, at least until some of these larger projects
get off the ground. I think it'll be a quicker way for some retailers to enter the market."

Still, that doesn't mean every deal will get done. Previous development plans floated for other parking lots, including
one north of Jillian's restaurant, haven't yet materialized.

The lot Jupiter Land Group hopes to build on has been vacant more than 90 years, according to a research report by the Indianapolis
Historic Preservation Commission, which already has approved the plans. Jupiter, which is headed by local restaurateur Rick
Coombes, plans to start construction on the project in late fall. Jupiter also renovated the Bright building and the building
on Maryland Street that houses the upscale 14 West Restaurant.

The project architect is Logan Architects and the design architect is Domain Architecture Inc. The project cost was not available.

The project at 239 S. Meridian is being designed by Cripe Architects. That project still must win approval from the Indianapolis
Historic Preservation Commission. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 3. The development is being proposed by Sideline
Properties, which most recently built a parking garage along Washington Street just east of Pennsylvania Street.

Jim Siegel, a partner in the company, declined to comment on the plans, which he described as preliminary. Siegel also is
an investor in Hot Box Pizza.

More developments in the area should increase traffic and boost other businesses in the Meridian Street corridor, said Todd
Maurer, president of locally based Halakar Properties Inc. Halakar has worked on several projects in the area, including the
Six Over Meridian building, which includes space leased to Jillian's and Howl at the Moon piano bar.

"Hot Box in particular will be a good fit–it'll be devoured by the customers in that area," he said.

Maurer said condos could be a tough sell at 115 S. Meridian St. because of the long, narrow shape of the space. But he said
condos with the same configuration sold in Coombes' Bright building next door.

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