North of South development to start this summer

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Now that financing for Buckingham Cos.’ massive North of South project has the city’s blessing, the local developer is turning its full attention to construction of the 14-acre, mixed-use complex.

The City-County Council on Monday night voted 16-12 to approve the sale of $98 million in municipal bonds that will finance the bulk of the $155 million project. Construction won’t officially begin until summer, said Buckingham CEO Bradley Chambers, who provided a run-down of what will happen now that the project’s biggest financial hurdle has been cleared.

Most of the project will rise on 12 acres of parking lots owned by Eli Lilly and Co. at the northeast corner of Delaware and South streets. Lilly, whose corporate campus is just south of the development site, is part of the Buckingham-led partnership behind North of South.

Lilly also is contributing a two-acre parking lot at the southeast corner of Delaware and South. That site, the only part of the project located south of South Street, will house a 75,000-square-foot YMCA branch.

Chambers said the YMCA probably will be the last component of the project to be built. He estimated that will happen in 2014. The Y is the only component of North of South that won’t be owned by the development team.

The other components—a boutique hotel, retail and office space, upscale apartments and parking—will be owned by the developer.

Before any of that can be built, the developer must secure city approval of the project design. That could come as soon as Wednesday at a meeting of the Metropolitan Development Commission. The city in December agreed to rezone the property for mixed-use development.

Chambers thinks infrastructure work at the site will start by early summer.

The first building to rise will be the 158-room Dolce hotel at the northeast corner of Delaware and South streets. Initial hopes of having the hotel open before next year’s Super Bowl in Indianapolis are no longer realistic, Chambers said. An opening in late 2012 or early 2013 is more likely.

New Jersey-based Dolce Hotels & Resorts operates 27 hotels in North America and Europe, not all of them under the Dolce name. The Indianapolis hotel was designed by Chicago-based Gensler, an architecture firm with offices around the world.

At least some of North of South’s approximately 800 parking spaces will be complete in time for the opening of the hotel. Most of of the parking will be in the center of the development in two 400-space, above-ground garages. There will be limited surface parking.

The developer-owned portion of the project is also to include six buildings containing a mix of apartments, retail and office space. Two buildings facing Delaware Street and a building just east of the hotel facing South Street will be a mix of ground-floor retail space, office space and apartments. Three buildings in the interior of the development will be residential only and will house the balance of the project's 329 apartments. Rent for the one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments hasn’t been finalized. Office space in the development will total between 10,000 and 30,000 square feet. There will be about 40,000 square feet of retail space.

Chambers anticipates most of the retail space being leased to “unique restaurant users,” meaning non-chain operations, although he didn’t rule out leasing to some nationally known restaurant tenants. The office space, he said, could be a draw for firms that do business with Lilly or WellPoint, which also has offices near the North of South site.

Chambers said it’s possible his company would partner with another firm to find users for the commercial space. Buckingham’s background is in the apartment sector.

Whoever is ultimately responsible for marketing the Buckingham development will probably end up using sales materials that don’t mention the name North of South. That name, said Chambers, was only a working title. He said it’s very likely the entire development will be rebranded.


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