IPS puts six surplus properties up for sale

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Indianapolis Public Schools is putting six of its buildings on the block, including one in the thriving Fountain Square neighborhood and another downtown that the system had wanted to demolish.

IPS will begin offering building tours starting June 13, said Abbe Hohmann, president of Site Strategies Advisory LLC, who is coordinating the sale for IPS. It will accept bids on the surplus properties from June 29 until July 1.

“It’s a much more visible and detailed offering than a legal notice,” she said. “We’ve had quite a bit of interest, so we’re hoping to capitalize on that.”

Four of the properties are former schools on the east and southeast sides of the city. They are IPS School 20 at 1849 E. Pleasant Run Parkway, IPS School 21 at 2815 English Ave., IPS School 78 at 3734 E. Vermont St. and IPS School 97 at 1401 E. 10th St.  

The other two buildings are the Center for Instructional Radio and Television at 931 Fletcher Ave. in Fountain Square and the historic Phillips Temple downtown at 1226 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St.

CIRT, as the Fletcher Avenue building is known, is east of both Virginia Avenue and Interstate 65 and totals 17,200 square feet. It was built in 1969 to house IPS radio station WIAN. IPS sold the station in 1986 to Indianapolis Public Broadcasting, owner of WFYI-TV Channel 20, and the call letters were changed to WFYI-FM 90.1.

IPS continued to own the building and closed it in 2014.

The vacant Phillips Temple has sat in limbo in recent years while avoiding on-and-off-again efforts from IPS to demolish it in favor of parking for Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School to the south.

As recently as February, the school district sought city approval to raze the 1924 building. But the request was continued to give Indiana Landmarks more leeway to find a buyer.

IPS bought the eyesore with four towering white columns at its entrance, and adjacent land, in early 2011 for $319,000.

“It was finally determined it would be better to sell the property than leave it in limbo, because there is interest,” Hohmann said.

The schools have been closed at least six years. Under state law, the district had to hold the vacant facilities for three years to allow a charter school time to buy the properties, typically for $1.

IPS is receiving interest from private firms as well as not-for-profits, Hohmann said. The structures could be converted into apartment units, neighborhood services, or into assisted-living or skilled-living facilities, she said.

Whether IPS receives and accepts bids for all six properties won’t be known for at least a few more months. Though bidding closes July 1, bids must be kept open for 45 days.

The financial strain the buildings put on IPS is a factor in the decision to sell, Scott Martin, IPS’ deputy superintendent for operations, said in an email.

“The IPS real estate initiative is an opportunity for the district to become leaner and more efficient,” he said. “We’re liquidating assets no longer in use for educational or support services.”
The four schools were constructed between 1913 and 1939 and closed in either 2006 or 2009.

IPS School 97 is part of the Arsenal Tech High School campus on the city’s near-east side. It was listed on Indiana Landmarks’ most-endangered List in 2006 and 2007.

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