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Long-discussed Penrose on Mass project clears major hurdle

December 29, 2016

Construction of Penrose on Mass, a long-discussed housing and retail project in the 500 block of Massachusetts Avenue, is set to begin following the sale Dec. 15 of the half-block site where the project will be built.

The $50 million Penrose on Mass will consist of 236 apartments, 40,000 square feet of retail space and a 379-space parking structure. Letters of intent have been signed for almost 50 percent of the retail space. The developer is a partnership of Carmel-based multifamily residential builder and developer J.C. Hart Co. Inc. and retail firm Strongbox Commercial.

The partnership bought the site from the city. It had housed the Indianapolis Fire Department headquarters, Fire Station No. 7 and the Firefighters Credit Union.

The sale was the last hurdle in a five-year process that began with the city soliciting bids from developers. The relocation of the fire station, firefighter headquarters and credit union complicated the deal, which also was subject to a lengthy and sometimes contentious design review by the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission.

A new fire station opened earlier this year on Fort Wayne Avenue adjacent to the new headquarters—the retrofitted former home of the American Red Cross at Fort Wayne and Central avenues. The credit union relocated to a building that opened in late summer in the 700 block of Massachusetts Avenue.

The architect for Penrose on Mass was Schmidt & Associates, which designed the project with a prominent digital art display at the southwest point of the building. That feature slowed design approval and was ultimately scrapped because of objections from the historic preservation commission.

Financing for Penrose on Mass is provided by U.S. Bank. Demolition is expected to begin by Jan. 10, with construction starting before the end of March.

J.C. Hart is the general contractor, but Wilhelm Construction will build the garage and podium level of the structure and Powers & Sons will serve as construction management consultant on that portion of the project.

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