Cincinnati investors buy apartment complex anchored by mansion

February 2, 2010

A group of Cincinnati investors has purchased an Indianapolis apartment complex anchored by a mansion listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Sundance Real Estate Holdings and other investors closed on the 37-unit Mansion Row apartments at 2550 Cold Spring Road Dec. 30. Russell D.  Kornman, a principal in Sundance, said his ownership group will upgrade some of the units within the next year and has enough land to add 24 more.

The centerpiece of the property is the Renaissance Revival Henry F. Campbell mansion, which houses 10 of the apartment units. Campbell was an associate of Harry C. Stutz of Stutz Motor Car Co. fame.

Kornman wouldn’t disclose what his group paid for the property, which was sold by Old National Bank after a previous owner lost it in foreclosure. An affiliate company, Cincinnati-based Sundance Property Management Co., has taken over management and leasing from locally based Flaherty & Collins, which had managed it for the bank. Sundance manages 2,500 apartment units in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.

The Mansion Row property was offered for sale seven years ago for $895,000, according to a listing in Indianapolis Monthly magazine from December 2002, but that was before most of the apartments were built.

Four years ago, 24 two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments were added to the 5.5-acre grounds. A former caretaker's quarters and a stable house three more units. Rent in the complex ranges from $500 to $1,000.

Kornman said about 50 percent of the tenants are students at IUPUI or at Marian University, which is less than a mile away. All but three of the units in Mansion Row are occupied.

Kornman’s group also owns the 48-unit Park Lane apartments in Carmel. In the last 18 months, it sold the 88-unit Dublin Glen apartments in Brownsburg and the 84-unit Lakeside at Walnut Hills complex in Plainfield.

Amy Burmeister, a broker with the local office of CB Richard Ellis who represented Kornman’s group in those sales and in the purchase of Mansion Row, said the sale of bank-owned apartment complexes should be a theme over the next few years as banks dispose of properties they’ve gotten in foreclosure.

“It should create some amazing opportunities for those who have cash or the ability to finance,” Burmeister said.

In Mansion Row’s case, the opportunity included a property with a unique history, which is rare for apartment complexes. The name Mansion Row refers to the stretch of Cold Spring Road south of 30th Street where automobile industry magnates and Indianapolis Motor Speedway financiers James Allison, Frank Wheeler and Carl Fisher built opulent homes in the early years of the 20th century.

In 1916, Henry Campbell hired D.A. Bohlen & Sons architects—the same firm that designed the City Market and Morris-Butler House—to design his house on what would become Mansion Row. But Campbell never lived in the house, the construction of which was put on hold in the 1920s after he ran out of money.

The concrete and steel house wasn’t finished until 1941, and was then almost immediately carved into 10 apartments, nine of which are one-bedroom units. The largest unit is a three-bedroom apartment on the mansion’s top floor.


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