Prime site near Keystone, 96th Street interchange hits market for nearly $10M

More than 18 undeveloped and wooded acres near a major north-side intersection and commercial corridor are up for sale, but local real estate brokers say it could be a while before anything happens with the site.

The 18.1-acre parcel is a few blocks west of the intersection of 96th Street and Keystone Avenue, currently undergoing a $28.8 million transformation into a roundabout. Immediately east of the intersection is the 96th Street commercial corridor, packed with car dealers, restaurants and shopping centers.

The property for sale has an Indianapolis address and is situated south of 96th Street and west of Haverstick Road, behind several homes that front the two streets. The south edge of the property abuts Interstate 465. Listed by Resource Commercial broker Ross Reller, it hit the market in April for about $550,000 per acre. Buying the entire property would cost around $9.9 million.

The property is currently owned by Ream Estates LLC, a holding company operated by the local Pantzer family.

Real estate insiders said it likely would take some time for any project to get off the ground once a purchase is finalized. Generally, buyers don’t take possession until redevelopment plans have cleared municipal hurdles, including approval from zoning and development boards.

Although the site is currently zoned residential, the city’s comprehensive land-use plan support commercial use.

Reller said the site is ideal for a mixed-use development that could include office, retail and multi-family housing. Even so, the lack of street-facing land could be a challenge for the site.

“Having the frontage along 465 is extremely rare and valuable, but just as valuable is the frontage along Haverstick and 96th Street,” Reller said. “I would anticipate that whoever buys this property will also approach some—or maybe all—of the homeowners to see what it would take to acquire their properties.”

There are about 10 properties along the western side of Haverstick adjacent to the property, while another nine run along the south side of 96th Street.

The assessed value of the homes along each stretch range from about $150,000 to $250,000, but Reller said homeowners would likely get a better deal because of renewed demand for their properties. Buying those properties, while potentially necessary, would carry a steep price tag for a developer, he said.

The lack of utilities on the site could also be a snag for some developers, said Bo Leffel, a land broker with Cushman & Wakefield.

“There's substantial work that we need to be done before that site is a viable development,” he said. “It could be a bit more complicated, as well, if the owners east and north of the parcel don’t want to sell their ground.”

Reller and Leffel both said it’s likely a completed development on the site won’t come for “years,” noting several other projects in the area—including Ikea in Fishers—that took more than three years to complete from the time the company began looking at sites.

“Nobody's going to buy the (site) until they know they can redevelop the rest of the land” with proper approvals and buy-in from neighbors, Reller said. “But I definitely anticipate that efforts for a mixed-use development would find some of those homes to be very attractive in assembling a larger project.”

Leffel said he thinks the area would lend itself well to an office development, particularly given its proximity to the Keystone at the Crossing submarket. He said it’s also one of the few remaining undeveloped sites on the city’s northern edge.

“This is a really desirable piece of land, because there really aren’t many this size left in this area,” he said. “It’s among the largest tracts still out there, with most large plots having been pretty well developed out already.”

Efforts to capitalize on the tract come as work continues on the Keystone roundabout, as well as a smaller roundabout at 96th Street and Haverstick Road. The projects are part of the Carmel Link 2.0 effort aiming to curb growing traffic congestion in the area. Each intersection is expected to be completed later this year.

The 96th Street and Keystone project is expected to cost about $28.8 million. The multi-lane teardrop design could relieve some of the headaches Carmel has sought to mitigate through earlier, unsuccessful efforts to rebuild the intersection.

Even so, the project has been delayed significantly from its original completion date, which was spring 2018.

As part of the effort, Carmel—which begins on the north side of 96th Street—is required to pay for any damage to Indianapolis streets during construction detours.

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