Decision on canal residential project delayed again

March 22, 2012

A city board’s vote to once again delay a decision on a proposed residential building along the Central Canal in downtown Indianapolis drew the ire of its developers.

The Metropolitan Development Commission on Wednesday afternoon continued the matter until its April 18 meeting after Valparaiso-based Investment Property Advisors resubmitted plans to the city March 14 showing the proposed building shrinking from 26 stories to 10.

Commission members granted the continuance on behalf of Maury Plambeck, director of the city’s Department of Metropolitan Development, who said his staff needed more time to review “significant modifications” to the plans.

The decision didn’t sit well with developers Larry Gough and Chase Sorrick, who drove from northwest Indiana expecting resolution on the plans, which they first submitted in November.

“We filed this petition four months ago,” Sorrick said. “It’s been continued, continued, continued. How long can this go on?”

The developer’s original plans for a 26-story tower designed for college students encountered resistance from neighbors over its height and impact on traffic in the area.

Investment Property Advisors reduced the size of the project to 10 stories to improve its chances of winning city approval. Under the proposal, the number of apartment units in the building shrank from 485 to 293.

The number of parking spaces also would shrink, from 434 to 236, within a three-level garage instead of the originally proposed six levels.

Two lawyers representing clients with business interests in the area also asked for a continuance to give them additional time to study the plans.

One, The Sexton Cos., owns and manages the nearby Gardens of Canal Court apartment complex. Its lawyer, Tim Ochs of Ice Miller LLP, said the change in plans is “drastic” enough to warrant extra scrutiny.

“Let’s face it, it’s student housing that’s proposed; in essence, a private dorm,” he said. “You’re looking at putting something there, that if not done properly, could have a significant impact on the canal. We better give that some thought and we better do it right.”

The project would be built on two adjoining parcels along Ninth Street between Senate Avenue and the canal: a 1.2-acre property that includes the offices and warehouse of B.B. Kirkbride Bible Co., and a 0.26-acre canal-front sliver of land that the city in August agreed to sell to the developer. Kirkbride is set to leave its property.

Despite the temporary setback, Investment Property Advisors still is hopeful construction can begin in the fall, which would allow the first residents to move in by summer 2014.

“We’re extremely disappointed, but we’re going to go forward,” Gough said. “We’ve reduced the size; we’ve reduced parking. I’m not sure what else we could do.”


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