Irvington officials seeking developer for high-profile parcel

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Irvington officials hope a highly visible vacant lot along East Washington Street is ripe for development after high winds blew through the area nearly two years ago and reduced their original plans to a pile of rubble.

Strong storms in November 2013 toppled much of the former post office building at the corner of Washington and Ritter Avenue, which had stood for 110 years.

The Irvington Development Organization and the Irvington Historical Society bought the building and were in the process of stabilizing it to attract a commercial buyer. With the building gone, IDO now is working with a blank canvas.

The group has listed the 49-foot-by-120-foot parcel for $25,000 and is seeking proposals from developers. The group also is working with an architect on a conceptual drawing to show potential developers what the lot could accommodate. IDO ideally wants a three-story building with retail on the lower level and apartments above.

“We want to show a developer what could go there and help inspire some imagination,” IDO Executive Director Margaret Lawrence Banning said.

The site is challenged not only by its small size but by lack of parking as well. So IDO is “running as many traps as possible” to showcase the site and will present its plans to both the neighborhood and the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission.

“We just want to make it easier for anybody who wants to go in there,” Banning said.

Irvington residents can learn more about IDO’s plans at a June 23 meeting set for 7 p.m. at the Irvington Presbyterian Church, 55 S. Johnson Ave. Locally based Halstead Architects is working up a sketch to unveil at the meeting.

Deb Kent, an Indianapolis real estate agent who resides in Irvington, is listing the property for IDO and so far has received “some nibbles,” she said.

“It needs to enhance the community,” Kent said of the project. “It can’t be a Dollar Store or a check-cashing place. It just needs to be something that we can all be proud of.”

Irvington officials are excited about the opportunities, despite the loss of such a historic structure.

Constructed in 1903, the two-story building had not been used as a post office for years and had been slated for demolition in 2012. It had been vacant since 1997.

But IDO and the Irvington Historical Society bought the building in hopes of saving it. The groups raised $12,000 and landed another $50,000 grant for the work.

Steel supports were scheduled to be delivered a day after the storm, and façade work was set to begin last spring. IDO also had planned to install a new roof.

The location is prime Irvington real estate, Kent said.

“If you look at East Washington Street, it’s the only open lot [in the neighborhood],” she said.

IDO hopes to have a buyer for the property by the end of the year, Banning said.

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