UIndy partnering to develop taproom near its campus

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Fast-growing Books & Brews plans to open a location near the University of Indianapolis as part of the school’s efforts to develop the area around the south-side campus.

Both Books & Brews and UIndy announced plans that have the university partnering with Indianapolis-based developer OakBridge Properties to convert the former Shelby Bowl building at 3808 Shelby St. into a used bookstore and taproom.

Work on the vacant one-story structure, just west of the campus and owned by the university, is expected to begin this month and finish in the spring.

“The university takes great pride in being an anchor for south Indianapolis, and we understand that our growth and success would not be possible without the support and partnership of our community,” UIndy President Robert Manuel said in a written statement. “As we look to expand our campus life to our growing student population, Books & Brews stands out as a logical option to bring additional retailers to our campus and surrounding neighborhoods.”

Manuel, who arrived as president in 2012, told IBJ in April about his plans to transform the liberal arts college into a south-side anchor by pursuing $50 million in building projects he hopes will attract private investment to the area.

Nestled in the University Heights neighborhood, the private school of 5,600 students historically has been an institutional island in a sea of working-class homes cut off from the affluence of downtown.

Manuel’s aim is to make the area around the heart of the campus at Shelby Street and Hanna Avenue a true destination by drawing more students and outsiders there, and giving it an identity.

The effort began with a partnership between UIndy and Community Hospital to build the $22 million health sciences center at Hanna and State avenues adjacent to the campus. The center opened in August 2015 and provides health and wellness services to the community while giving students clinical experience.

UIndy followed by partnering with local developer Strategic Capital Partners to build the $25 million Greyhound Village student-housing project at Shelby Street and National Avenue. The four-story apartment building opened in August 2016 and created a new housing option for up to 487 students.

OakBridge Properties, which is teaming with UIndy to develop the Books & Brews, is led by Will Zink, son of Strategic Capital CEO Gene Zink.

“We are honored to help bring Books & Brews to UIndy,” Will Zink said in written comments. “We know B&B will prove to be a valuable asset to both UIndy students and the larger south-side community.”

Jason Wuerful launched Books & Brews in 2014, at 9402 Uptown Drive near Interstate 69 and East 96th Street on the city’s north-east side. Locations since have followed in Zionsville, Brownsburg and Muncie, with two others slated to open in Carmel and Wheat Ridge Colorado.

Wuerful in February registered with the state of Indiana to franchise his concept, which so far has attracted three franchisees—Carmel, UIndy and Colorado.

The UIndy franchise will be operated by Evan and Melissa Sandullo, who in October 2016 moved to Indianapolis with their three children from the Chicago area. Evan has a background in business administration and finance, and Melissa is a musician.

“I’m just so excited, because we loved this place from Day One,” Melissa said in written remarks. “The idea that we get to take some ownership now and share the Books & Brews experience with the University of Indianapolis is unreal.”

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