Michigan Road project features upscale shops: Smaller version of Café Patachou planned for property

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Developers of a small parcel of property on the northwest side are creating a courtyard of quaint shops that will feature an offshoot of the Café Patachou boutique restaurant.

Daniel Altman and his wife, Colleen, bought the piece of land at the corner of 51st Street and Michigan Road last year and opened the upscale Catalpa Antiques & Objects in the historic home that sits on the property.

Once completed, the Catalpa Place development will include five shops within a short walking distance of one another connected by walking paths that link to a courtyard. The country French influence in design will be reminiscent of what might be found in New Orleans, the developers said.

“There are places like this, but they’re on the East Coast or in the South,” Colleen Altman said, “so we thought this would be unique to the city.”

Besides the antique store, which is stocked with relics from her trips to France, The Pear Tree and Rosalind Brinn Pope Interiors are open and part of the one-acre development. Both operated by Brinn Pope, a well-known local interior designer, the businesses are at the rear of the property in another refurbished home.

The Pear Tree, which peddles fine European linens and home accessories, is housed on the first floor. The upstairs is occupied by Brinn Pope’s studio. The location is the second for Brinn Pope, whose main office is in Broad Ripple.

“This will be a wonderful location, because it will be a European style that fits our clientele and what we’re trying to develop,” said Terri Gray, Brinn Pope’s assistant.

A smaller version of Martha Hoover’s Café Patachou (French for cream puff) will be built directly to the south of the antique store, with a terrace between the two structures.

The new restaurant will be the fourth for Hoover, who opened her first in 1989 at 49th and Pennsylvania streets. The others are in the River Crossing retail center on 82nd Street and at 126th Street and Gray Road in Carmel.

Hoover needed little prodding from the Altmans, who have been café regulars since the beginning, to open a northwestside restaurant. Hoover wants to open there in September. Construction has yet to begin.

“I love the fact that it is in an area that has been a bit forgotten,” she said. “It’s a beautiful area with a real sense of neighborhood. I think it’s going to attract a very sophisticated clientele.”

While the Michigan Road thoroughfare there historically has never been a hotbed of activity, change is under way just south of the development.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art will reopen May 6 following a three-year, $74 million expansion to its main building. The museum’s space will more than double, adding galleries, restaurants and educational areas to the original 1970 building at 38th Street.

The International School of Indiana built an 85,000-square-foot building for middle and high school classes on the school’s 63-acre Michigan Road campus. The $17.5 million structure opened in August.

Next door is the $12 million Light of the World Christian Church, and across the street is a small gated community being built on 176 acres by local businesswoman Christel DeHaan. She bought the former St. Maur Monastery in 2002 and is constructing an estate behind an enormous wall that sprawls alongside Michigan Road.

The growth should benefit the shops and Hoover’s latest café, said Steve Delaney, a partner and restaurant specialist at The Linder Co., a Carmel-based real estate firm.

“She appeals to the clientele that will be frequenting the shops in that little complex,” Linder said. “That sort of fits her, and she’ll do well. There’s a lot happening all of a sudden over there.”

The last piece of the Catalpa development involves a mansard-style garage that will be renovated and possibly expanded for additional retail space. The Altmans are negotiating with a potential tenant.

The cement-block, brick corner-point look of the garage complements the café, which was designed by New York architect David Webster. He has designed four homes in Indianapolis, including the Altmans’.

Webster met the couple in the mid 1990s after they purchased a house he designed within blocks of Catalpa Place. At one time, he had considered buying the property and converting it into an office. When the Altmans purchased it, they approached him about a partnership. He agreed.

“We don’t know if it will all work,” Webster said. “But it seems that, with the development of Patachou, maybe this corner will be able to support itself.”

Dan Altman declined to divulge how much the owners have spent on renovations.

The commercially zoned property has undergone a string of changes through the years. The home that houses the antique shop was built as a log cabin by Josephine Coburn, who coincidentally sold French antiques there in the early part of the century.

The Coppock Brothers interior design firm operated from the location for years. The Altmans bought part of the land from Robert Baldwin, owner of locally based Safety Resources Inc.

The parcel with the renovated home that is occupied by Brinn Pope was bought from Paul D’Amico.

Colleen Altman began selling antiques with her mother, Lois Fiedler, who operates Heirlooms in the Carmel Antique Mall. Dan Altman is a lawyer.

The development takes its name from the Catalpa tree in the front yard of the antique shop.

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