Milhaus swings creative deal for $16M apartment project in Fountain Square

A local developer has land under contract in Fountain Square with plans to build a $16 million mixed-use project just east of the neighborhood’s commercial core.

Milhaus Development LLC is buying two parcels from separate owners totaling more than 1.3 acres at the northeast corner of Olive and Prospect streets, and just a block from where Prospect intersects with Virginia and Shelby streets. It's across Prospect Street from the former site of Value World.

Plans call for 118 apartment units, ranging from studios to two-bedroom units, and 3,000 square feet of ground-level retail space in a four-story, U-shaped building.

Milhaus Fountain Square project 258pxCLICK IMAGE FOR LARGER VIEW: The Milhaus project will run along Prospect Street and offer 118 apartment units. (Image courtesy Milhaus Development LLC)

The properties stretch from Olive Street east to where the Indianapolis Fire Department is building a new station. They currently contain a two-story, single-family home and the Wilson St. Pierre funeral home.

Wilson St. Pierre also has locations on East Thompson Road on the city’s south side, in addition to Greenwood and Pendleton. It operates under the Simplicity Funeral & Cremation Care name in Southport and Zionsville.

The funeral services company will stay at the Fountain Square location until May. In the meantime, it will open in the next few weeks a Cremation Society of Indiana location farther south, at Shelby Street and Hanna Avenue, said Paul St. Pierre, president of Wilson St. Pierre Funeral Service & Crematory.

“It’s way too big a building, and choppy, for what we need today,” St. Pierre said of the building on Prospect, which dates to 1897.

Milhaus is purchasing the lot with the two-story residence from local owner Attack Life LLC. The structure formerly housed Burkhart Marketing, which is now located on East Riverside Drive near West 16th Street.

“A lot of people would consider Fountain Square one of the best urban neighborhoods we have in Indy,” said Jake Dietrich, Milhaus’ director of development. “Unfortunately, it’s been undersupplied with apartments compared to places like Massachusetts Avenue. This is a good opportunity to meet that need.”

The funeral home will be demolished to make way for the development, but Milhaus has agreed to move the two-story house to a yet-to-be-determined location to preserve it, Dietrich said.

“The intent is that it finds a new home within the Fountain Square neighborhood,” he said.

Milhaus agreed to the arrangement after it was recommended by both the city’s Department of Metropolitan Development and neighborhood leaders.

The developer, which has its headquarters in nearby Fletcher Place, hopes to close on the sale of the properties in the second quarter and begin construction in June, with completion by the end of summer 2019.

On March 21, Milhaus received approval from the Metropolitan Development Commission to rezone the properties for planned-unit development purposes.

Milhaus met several times with the Fountain Square Neighborhood Association to gain its support, Dietrich said.

Through mutual relationships, Milhaus entered into acquisition discussions with both property owners, who were not actively marketing the sites but were willing to entertain offers, he said.

“You think about new additions with the Red Line, and the Cultural Trail already there, we really like the location,” Dietrich said.

The first phase of the Red Line will stretch from Broad Ripple south through downtown and Fountain Square and onto the University of Indianapolis campus following the Virginia Avenue and Shelby Street route.

Indianapolis-based DKGR is the architect on the mixed-use project, which does not have a name yet.

Milhaus has another apartment property nearby. Last spring it finished the $12.5 million project that involved tearing down a former Indianapolis Public Schools building at 931 Fletcher Ave.  

The apartment developer bought the Center for Instructional Radio and Television from IPS and, after clearing the property, built the 82-unit Pinnex apartment building.

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