Education startup plans $16M headquarters, charter school building on west side

A local education technology company plans to spend $16 million to construct a mixed-use office, charter school and retail building along West Michigan Street in the Haughville neighborhood.

Crossroads Education, a software-as-a-service company that works with local schools and colleges, is seeking city approval to build a 60,000-square-foot, four-story structure in the 2100 block of W. Michigan St., directly west of the Haughville branch of the Indianapolis Public Library.

The building would have space for multiple commercial uses—ideally, a bank branch, a small grocery store and a restaurant incubator and coffee shop—as well as a charter school and 15,000 square feet of headquarters space for Crossroads.

The Indianapolis-based company works with school systems to provide in-school co-working spaces and tech-based learning platforms for students.

Kevin Berkopes, founder of Crossroads Education, said the decision “to invest fully” in the community with a new building comes as the company seeks additional partnership opportunities and to raise its national profile.

“We want to show that Indianapolis is led with the idea that the way forward in education is … (to provide) access for all of our young people to the tools that will help them be successful,” he said. “In the next 10 years, we want to make Indianapolis the epicenter of that.”

The 3.4-acre property, currently owned by the Westside Community Development Corp., is under contract, contingent upon the city approving the Crossroads project, Berkopes said.

Approval from the Metropolitan Development Commission is required because Crossroads wants to rezone the property to the MU-2 classification, allowing for mixed-use developments. The height of the building would be about 70 feet, which exceeds zoning development standards for MU-2 and also would require approval.

The city’s Department of Metropolitan Development staff has recommended approval. The MDC will consider the request during its Wednesday afternoon meeting.

A charter school “that’s looking for a new home” has tentatively agreed to move into the second and third floors of the building, Berkopes said. He declined to reveal the identity of the school.

The lower level of the building would be split between multiple retail spaces, with a grocery store expected to anchor the site. Berkopes said he is working with prospective tenants.

Crossroads will pay for the mixed-use project with bank financing, although Berkopes said he is trying to secure tax credits and other public funding assistance for the project.

“We’ve been having all sorts of good conversations on that, talking to national and local funding mechanisms … to figure out how to do this and drive community impact,” Berkopes said, noting the mayor’s office is among those with whom he has spoken. Ian Nicolini, executive director of Develop Indy, which works with the city on economic development projects, declined to comment, citing city policy on discussing negotiations for financial incentives.

The development arm of Berkopes’ company, Crossroads Realty Group, would be the developer of the building, working with the local office of St. Louis-based firm Arco Construction. Indianapolis-based Meticulous Design + Architecture is the architect on the project.

Pending city approval, Crossroads plans to break ground this fall, with completion set for late 2020.

Crossroads has a presence in several IPS schools and local charter schools. The group is working with Ivy Tech to bring “learning commons”—the firm’s tech-based co-working space for students—to three branches of the community college system, including one in Lafayette.

The group in March received a $750,000 grant from the Gates Foundation to fund peer-to-peer tutoring spaces, or “Learning Commons” at four Indianapolis schools.

A bachelor's and doctoral graduate of Purdue University, Berkopes founded Crossroads in 2016 after several years as director of IUPUI’s Mathematics Assistance Center. He has also taught at schools in North Carolina, Chicago, Texas and Indiana. He was among IBJ’s Forty Under 40 honorees in 2018.

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