The developer of an Irvington apartment building set to open in the fall is starting the second phase of the project, a medical office facility that will be occupied by Franciscan St. Francis Health.
Investors with ties to Meyer-Najem Construction Co. are partnering with the not-for-profit Irvington Development Organization to build 50 one- and two-bedroom apartments at the site of the former Indy East Motel at 5855 E. Washington St.
Next door to the west, a roughly 50-year-old, one-story, brick doctor’s office occupied by two physicians affiliated with St. Francis will be torn down to make way for the larger, 5,900-square-foot medical facility.
Together, the Irvington Lofts apartment building and the medical facility represent an $11 million investment by the Meyer-Najem partners and IDO.
"It’s been good for us to clean this up and keep them in the neighborhood,” said investor Antone Najem of the two doctors that occupy the building slated for demolition. “It’s a pretty good little spot.”
The doctors are Bernard M. Herbst and Mark Hodgkin. They'll ultimately be joined by two more doctors, thanks to the new, larger building, said Dr. Isaac Myers, president of Franciscan Physician Network's central Indiana region.
"They've been there for years and have a huge practice," Myers said. "That's why we dreaded the fact of having to move to a new location."
Najem, a son of Meyer-Najem principal Anthony Najem, and Tom Peck, executive vice president of real estate for Meyer-Najem, are the two partners in the project along with IDO and St. Francis.
IDO bought the building that formerly housed the Indy East Motel for $30,000 in a tax sale and received permission from the city in October 2011 to demolish it. The city revoked the motel’s license to operate in 2006 and shut it down in January 2009 over complaints from neighbors and law enforcement officials that it was a magnet for crime.
The site is considered key to the ongoing redevelopment of Irvington’s commercial district along East Washington Street.
“One of the reasons we wanted to pursue this is that it pushes the core a little bit farther east,” IDO Executive Director Margaret Banning said. “We need to grow our business district a little more to gain critical mass, to push it out a little more and make it a destination.”
Banning ultimately wants to extend the district about four blocks east from the apartment development to Irvington Plaza, to help rejuvenate the shopping center plagued by several vacancies.
Meantime, Irvington Lofts began accepting applications last month from potential residents who may qualify for affordable housing. The project was financed by selling state-issued tax credits from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.
Irvington Lofts features a green roof, a community garden and a courtyard, in addition to meeting space that can be used by neighborhood groups.
The adjacent medical facility should be finished in April and will be built in two phases.
The first phase encompassing 4,000 square feet will be built on vacant land at the corner of East Washington Street and South Bolton Avenue, and directly west of the existing doctors' office.
Once the first phase is finished, the existing office will be razed to add 1,900 square feet to the new facility.
Najem and Peck bought the existing structure from the two physicians who will occupy the new facility as part of St. Francis’ practice. St. Francis will lease the building from Najem and Peck.
Redevelopment of the site is coinciding with other projects that are transforming the east-side neighborhood’s commercial district.
Ossip Optometry opened last year in a building at 5606 E. Washington St. that it bought and renovated. Just east of the Ossip building, Black Acre Brewing Co. opened in a 2,200-square-foot retail space that it renovated.
And IDO on Sept. 21 will formally dedicate a $2.9 million makeover of the East Washington streetscape.