Virginia Avenue attracts yet another project

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A locally based developer and manager of affordable housing in three states is staking its first claim downtown with two projects, including an apartment and retail development planned for the rapidly changing Virginia Avenue corridor.

Englewood Development has under contract the former Shirley Engraving property at 460 Virginia Ave., where it plans up to 50 apartments, about 5,000 square feet of retail space and an underground parking garage.

The site is across the street from the Virginia Avenue spur of the Cultural Trail, which is under construction adjacent to two other apartment buildings being built in the neighborhood, the 64-unit Mozzo apartments in the 500 block and the soon-to-open Hinge, a building with 56 apartments and 12,000 square feet of retail space in the 700 block.

“It’s a neighborhood that’s going places,” said Nick Surak, who is in charge of acquisition and development for Englewood, which his father started in 1974. “This is a great opportunity to do a project in an area that is going to be unrecognizable in five or 10 years.”

Surak cited The Hinge, The Mozzo and CityWay, all market-rate projects, as evidence the neighborhood is catching fire.

The Hinge is a $7.5 million project being developed by local architect Craig Von Deylen. It opens this fall. The Mozzo, a $5.8 million project with 2,300 square feet of commercial space, is being developed by Milhaus Development. It opens next year.

CityWay is the high-profile, $155 million project Buckingham Cos. is developing a few blocks west of Virginia Avenue on South Street between Delaware and New Jersey streets. CityWay will feature a boutique hotel, 250 apartments, up to 100,000 square feet of retail space, a 24,000-square-foot office building and a YMCA.

Sandra Jarvis, a commercial real estate broker, is so impressed with activity on Virginia Avenue that she moved her office earlier this year from the Chamber of Commerce Building on North Meridian Street to 660 Virginia Ave.

Jarvis is handling leasing for The Hinge, where only one commercial space remains. She said there’s a lot of demand, but not much inventory, for space for small businesses that only need about 1,000 square feet.

Jarvis worked with Surak on Englewood’s first downtown apartment project, the adaptive reuse of an 1895 church at 1249 N. Alabama St. That 24-unit project, known as Englewood Lofts and financed with rental housing tax credits awarded by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, will start construction this fall. The estimated project cost is $5.1 million.
Englewood will apply to the state this fall for tax credits for the Virginia Avenue project. If it gets those credits, which will be awarded early next year, the project would start later in the year and open in 2014. Two historic buildings on the site will be preserved and incorporated into the project. A low-slung block building that dates to the 1960s will be demolished. Surak said it’s too early to estimate the project cost.

Englewood has developed and manages more than 2,800 rental units in Indiana, Illinois and Arizona. It manages another 1,100 units that it developed in partnership with various not-for-profit agencies.

The company initially focused its activity in rural areas, but as the federal affordable housing tax credit program has grown Englewood has shifted its focus to urban areas.

To date, the company's only Indianapolis property is the 49-unit College Park Apartments, completed in 1987. Surak said Englewood’s projects on Virginia Avenue and at 13th and Alabama are a sign of the company’s renewed interest in the city.

“Indianapolis is a real bright spot in the Midwest,” he said. Surak, who grew up here and moved away, noticed a difference in the city when he returned in 2009. “It’s got a more urban feel to it now.”


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