Once-swanky downtown apartment building receives $5.7M makeover

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wyndham apartments

A historic downtown apartment building that underwent a $5.7 million renovation is beginning to attract tenants again after the new owner tore the interior down to its studs.

Pearl Cos., an Indianapolis-based apartment developer and manager, in December 2015 bought the Wyndham at 1040 N. Delaware St. just south of Interstate 65. The seven-story building had fallen into disrepair and was almost vacant.

“It was drug-infested when we took it over,” recalled K.J. Afterkirk, property manager at Pearl. “The place was pretty run down.”

kj afterkirkK.J. Afterkirk

Pearl paid local owner Fon-Roy Investors Inc. $1.4 million for the property, according to county assessment records.

Built in 1929, at the first blush of the Great Depression, the Wyndham featured 48 units and some impressive design details, such as small saints’ heads that adorn each side of a first-floor entryway.

Pearl reduced the unit count from 48 to 37 to increase the size of some of the apartments. But because the building falls within the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission’s downtown purview, the doorways to the units that were taken out still stand, to help preserve the interior’s character.

They go nowhere and stand simply as decoration—a hat tip to the Wyndham’s original design.

Several of the units (31 one-bedrooms, six two-bedrooms) boast original flooring, and all sport double-crown molding. Monthly rents run from $1,060 to $1,470, and 12 of the units are occupied.

Pearl is pleased with the interest the Wyndham has received, Afterkirk said, considering the renovation still is finishing up.

“Everybody falls in love with the building. It’s a unique space,” he said.

Upon its debut, the Wyndham was prominent enough to warrant a story in the Aug. 4, 1929, edition of The Indianapolis Star.

A “cantilever slab” system, developed by the local Foster Engineering Services Co., enabled workers to construct the building “with remarkable speed.” It took about five months to build, with reinforced concrete, Indiana limestone and brick.

A vestibule containing the “electric house-phone board” and an elevator of the “automatic push-button type” speaks to the era in which the 88-year-old building was constructed.

The ground floor now features much more modern amenities aimed at attracting young professionals who prefer living downtown.

A fitness center and bicycle-storage and pet-wash areas are available, as well as a kitchen, lounge and business center. Free off-street parking is offered in a surface lot to the south of the building.

Pearl plans to install a fire pit and gazebo in space near the lot fronting Delaware Street.

The renovation of the Wyndham is the largest project Pearl has undertaken to date. However, it should soon be eclipsed by a $35 million conversion of an old hospital in Cincinnati into apartments.

Pearl was founded in 1997 by Brad Richey, a 30-year veteran of the real estate industry. The company is located at 919 N. East St. about four blocks north of Massachusetts Avenue.

Besides the Wyndham, Pearl's downtown apartment holdings include the Maryden at 1308 Central Ave. and the newer Trailside on Mass at 875 Massachusetts Ave. Pearl also manages the Wardsworth at the southwest corner of 13th and Broadway streets, and the Aviary at 450 E. Walnut St. about a block north of Massachusetts Avenue and west of East Street.

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