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UPDATE: Apartments, parking garage planned on Mass Ave adjacent to Athenaeum

April 29, 2016
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The four-story Block 20 would wrap around the east and south sides of the Athenaeum and include retail space and as many as 70 apartment units. (Image courtesy The Athenaeum Foundation and Chase Development Inc.)

The not-for-profit that owns the historic Athenaeum building on Massachusetts Avenue and a local developer are planning a major mixed-use project adjacent to the building that would include as many as 70 apartments, retail space and a 229-car parking garage.

The Athenaeum Foundation is partnering with Indianapolis-based Chase Development Inc. on the project, to be called Block 20. The name is derived from the block’s position on the original plat of Indianapolis at the southeast corner of New Jersey and Michigan streets.

“This development will benefit our area in so many ways,” said Athenaeum President Cassie Stockamp in a Friday morning announcement about the project. “There is additional housing to satisfy an increasing demand for downtown living, much-needed parking for residents of and visitors to Mass Ave and the surrounding neighborhood, and significant property tax revenue for Indianapolis and Marion County.”

The project still is in its early stages and many details still need to be finalized. Chase President Daniel Jacobs declined to discuss financing for the project or estimate its cost.

The foundation and Chase Development plan to do extensive outreach to area neighbors and officials to get feedback on the plans. Chase plans to begin the approval process with city officials, so “we want to be as transparent as possible,” Stockamp said.

As currently envisioned, the five-story project would extend east of the Athenaeum to East Street on land owned by the foundation that currently is used for surface parking. Two residences along Michigan Street east of the Athenaeum would not be affected; the project essentially would wrap around them.

The planned parking garage would be located in the interior of the development, shielded from view and accessible from East Street. Of the 229 spaces, 160 would be available to the public.

About 10,000 square feet of retail space is planned, at least some at street level along Michigan but also on Cleveland Street, a small thorougfare directly east of the Athenaeum that would be transformed into a European-style walkway, Jacobs said.

Chase Development recently completed a condominium project on the northwest corner of East Michigan Street and Park Avenue. Jacobs said that apartments seemed more appropriate for Block 20 and its high-energy atmosphere.

"What I've found with doing condominiums is that homeowners really appreciate the ability to step away from the action," Jacobs told IBJ on Friday afternoon.

Jacobs highlighted several other distinctive elements of the project, including an energy-efficient design and a rooftop deck.

"This type of project doesn't come along very often," Jacobs said. "An ultra-modern development situated, and in many way integrated, with a 125-year-old historic structure presents such a compelling opportunity."

The lead architect for the project is Dan Moriarity, owner of Studio M Architecture in Carmel.

The foundation has been trying for years to spark development on the adjacent lot. It received three proposals from developers in May 2013 but eventually decided to shelve them after being unable to resolve financial details.

Chase Development has produced several residential projects in the northeast quadrant of downtown near the Athenaeum site, including the 500 Park Residences on the northwest corner of East Michigan Street and Park Avenue.

Jacobs started the firm in 2006 after graduating from Miami University with a bachelor's degree in finance. The company has completed a variety of residential and commercial retail project across the Midwest.

Correction: An earlier version of the story incorrectly reported that a portion of the development would be located south of the Athenaeum. It would extend only to the east.
 

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