Downtown’s south end poised for construction projects

Plans for a 700-space parking garage on downtown’s south end could launch a larger development that would include the construction of two new office buildings.

The five-story parking garage project has been proposed for 108 E. McCarty St., on a narrow surface lot bordered by Madison Avenue and South Pennsylvania Street about a block west of the Eli Lilly and Co. campus.

A group of investors that includes John Hurley, CEO of software firm SmartFile, has filed plans with the city to construct the garage. The Regional Center Hearing Examiner is set to hear the proposal March 9.

Hurley didn’t respond to an email seeking comment. Steve Alexander, a principal of Prince/Alexander Architects Inc., which is headquartered near the site, at 21 W. Merrill St., is the architect on the project. He said plans for the property have been designed to accommodate two additional structures in addition to the parking garage.

The first would be a 100,000-square-foot office building ranging in height from eight to 12 stories.

“If that fills up fairly quickly, a second office building could follow,” Alexander said. “Or it could be a hotel; the developer is analyzing that.”

The office buildings could help meet growing demand from local startup tech companies seeking short-term space while they’re in growth mode.

Hurley at SmartFile is helping to lead the effort. His investor group has spent more than $10 million to create The Union, a for-profit venture that opened in January. It is based in a 122,000-square-foot building at 525 S. Meridian St., not far from Lucas Oil Stadium.

The 121-year-old downtown property—which is known as the Brougher Building and once housed Harry E. Wood High School—was already 90 percent leased in November, Hurley told IBJ at the time. SmartFile moved in late last month.

The Union courts high-growth tech firms that are past the startup phase but still aren't quite sure how much space they'll need in five years. It offers short-term leases in increments of 5,000 square feet that users can adjust as needs change.

Any newly constructed office building on the site where the parking garage is set to be built will follow that model, Alexander said.

“It’s absolutely about tech,” Alexander said.

If the plans for the office buildings come to fruition, the south side of downtown could be poised for a construction boom.

Illinois-based Hillcrest Development Inc. finally is ready to break ground in April on a $17 million, 146-room extended stay TownePlace Suites by Marriott hotel two blocks east of Lucas Oil Stadium.

Alexander, who also is the architect on that project, said it should be finished in late summer 2018.

Hillcrest received its first approvals from the city in July 2015. The five-story hotel would be south of Merrill Street and between Russell Avenue and South Meridian Street as they come to a point.

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