The Greek Revival apartment building at 3034 N. Pennsylvania St. had been boarded up, covered with vines and vacant more than a decade when it landed on Mayor Greg Ballard's list of nuisance and tax-delinquent properties slated for demolition.
That didn't sit well with some of the building's historic-minded Meridian Park neighbors, so they reached out to the historic preservation group Indiana Landmarks. The group agreed to pay the city $5,000 for the property, then sold it for the same price in late December to Indianapolis-based Woodland Realty, which has promised to restore the 1913 structure.
The roughly $500,000 project will stabilize the building known as the Esplanade Annex and prepare its nine one-bedroom apartment units for tenants, said Christopher Congdon, the project manager. The building is in rough shape, but Woodland hopes to save the few original windows that remain and some of the flooring.
"We're going to try and preserve the original look," Congdon said.
The building will be removed from the RebuildIndy demolition list once several code violations are remedied, including citations over its lack of windows and downspouts and holes in the roof, said Chad Lethig, the Indianapolis preservation coordinator for Indiana Landmarks.
Lethig said the building needs a new roof and completely new interior. Woodland also plans to tuck-point the building's exterior brick and refabricate missing metal cornice pieces for the facade.
The developers expect to apply for preservation-related tax credits and finish the work by fall 2012.
"It's literally teetering on the point of no return: It's going to take considerable resources to put Humpty Dumpty back together again," Lethig said. "We're very thankful it's in the hands of a responsible property owner now that will do the right thing. It's all about saving the building. That was first and foremost."
As part of the deal, Indiana Landmarks plans to add covenants to the deed that should keep it from ending up in such bad shape again.
The building is across Pennsylvania Street from the National Register-listed Esplanade Apartments, which sit between 30th Street and the spot where Pennsylvania and Talbott streets merge. (Carmer Watson Properties Inc. renovated and reopened the Esplanade in 2005.) The Esplanade Annex was built as a four-unit apartment, but an owner in the 1940s subidivided it into nine units, one of which is in the basement.
Both apartment buildings are just a block east of the Children's Museum of Indianapolis.
Indiana Landmarks has been working to save a handful of the structures the city has targeted for demolition. It also hopes to save a double immediately north of the Esplanade Annex. Woodland President Jeffrey Congdon may take on that project as well but for now is focused on the Esplanade Annex.
"Obviously you can't save all 2,000 of them," Lethig said. "But there are viable structures on this list that can be rehabbed relatively cheaply and put back into service."
In Woodland's most recent project, the company essentially built a new apartment building within the historic Sheldrake at 2258 N. Meridian St. The building leased up in just a few months.