Developer proposing 12-story student-housing tower downtown

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An Athens, Georgia-based company is the latest in a string of apartment developers confident that more IUPUI students want to live close to campus downtown.

Landmark Properties wants to build a 12-story, 290,000-square-foot mixed-use development on the triangular parcel bounded by Indiana Avenue to the west, Michigan Street to the north and Senate Avenue to the east.

The surface lot is directly west of the Axis at Block 400 apartment project anchored by a Marsh supermarket that Flaherty & Collins Properties developed. Flaherty & Collins had planned to build Axis' second phase on the lot but now is selling it to Landmark, a lawyer representing the Georgia firm said.

American United Life Insurance Co. bought the land in 1996 and sold it to a subsidiary of Flaherty & Collins in 2008, Marion County assessor records show.

Jim Crossin, Flaherty & Collins’ vice president of development, said the company decided to sell because it’s pursuing other opportunities. One of those is the Indianapolis Public Schools property along Massachusetts Avenue. Flaherty is part of a team led by Browning Investments that submitted a bid to buy the land.

"It’s a good site,” Crossin said of the parcel near Axis, “but we see more appealing opportunities.”

Landmark’s request for a zoning variance is set to be heard by a city zoning board Tuesday afternoon. The filing seeking the variance didn’t specify the number of units in the project, and Landmark did not respond to requests for comment prior to the meeting.

The filing does say the project would include 24,000 square feet of retail and amenity space along Indiana Avenue.

The variance is necessary because the 140-foot-tall structure would encroach into the area’s “sky exposure plane,” according to Landmark’s filing with the city.

Department of Metropolitan Development staff supports the variance subject to approval of the Regional Center Hearing Examiner, noting the difficulties the triangular lot presents for a large-scale development.

City zoning regulations for Central Business District-Two require buildings to be constructed to allow sunlight at street level. Project elevations show that would be accomplished only with a building totaling eight stories.

But the DMD staff recommendation to approve the development points out that the 36-story OneAmerica tower is just two blocks to the southeast. Also, an 11-story apartment project is under construction to the northeast of the Landmark surface lot, at Michigan Street and Capitol Avenue.

That development, from West Lafayette-based Trinitas Ventures, is one of three student-housing projects already in the works downtown.

Trinitas’ $40 million development will include 193 units, up to 7,000 square feet of small-shop space, and a parking garage. Trinitas is building the project on a surface lot at the northeast corner of Michigan Street and Capital Avenue, a straight shot east of the IUPUI campus.

To the north, Louisville-based Investment Property Advisors is planning a second phase to its 9 on Canal Apartments project along the Central Canal and north of West St. Clair Street.

The $37 million phase would add 194 apartment units and more than 15,000 square feet of retail space to 9 on Canal’s 304 units and nearly 8,000 square feet of retail space.

And locally based Annex Student Living LLC is preparing to build a $32 million, six-story apartment project with 248 units along West 10th Street just west of the White River. Called The Annex on 10th, it will offer studio apartments, as well as two- and four-bedroom units, with a total of 535 beds.

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