City expected to tap Flaherty & Collins for former MSA site

The prolific local developer Flaherty & Collins Properties is expected to land a deal with the city to build a residential and commercial skyscraper on part of the former home of Market Square Arena, multiple sources said Monday evening.

The company, which developed the Cosmopolitan on the Canal project and is building the adjacent $85 million Axis at Block 400, is one of six teams that had proposed mixed-use structures ranging from eight to 52 stories for the roughly 2-acre parcel directly east of City Market.

Flaherty's plans call for a shorter structure than the 52-story option proposed by locally based Keystone Group and Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises, but the firm's proposal is expected to be substantially taller than the shortest option.

City officials have refused to release details of the bids despite repeated requests, citing the need to negotiate in confidence. Real estate sources said each plan includes a mix of apartments and retail space. Some also envisioned office space.

Flaherty & Collins CEO David Flaherty declined to discuss the project when reached by email late Monday.

"Not in a position to talk at this time," he wrote, "but should be a very exciting day for Indianapolis tomorrow."

Mayor Greg Ballard is scheduled to announce the city's choice at a 10 a.m. press conference on the site, which has served as a surface parking lot since the arena's implosion in 2001.

Previous attempts to redevelop the property failed in 2004 and 2007, under former Mayor Bart Peterson. City officials decided to offer only the northern half of the arena site this time around, in hopes a first phase would help drive demand for a second one.

The deal is likely to involve city incentives that could include some combination of tax-increment-financing revenue, free land or an allowance for infrastructure. The city freed up the land for the Axis at 400 project, which will include a Marsh grocery store and 500 apartments, by agreeing to build an $11 million parking garage to replace OneAmerica's surface lots.

Several other big-name local developers floated plans for the MSA site: Buckingham and Kite Realty Group; Browning Investments and The Whitsett Group; Milhaus Development and REI Real Estate Services LLC; and Barrett & Stokely Inc. and Ryan Companies US Inc.

Check for updates on Tuesday morning.

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