Architect hopes to build on momentum along White River on downtown’s west side

A local architect has an ambitious and eclectic vision for land along the White River on the west side of downtown Indianapolis, consisting of new apartment developments, retail space, tourism attractions and manufacturing.

Some of that vision already has materialized, and Indianapolis-based Hotel Tango Distillery is in the process of relocating and consolidating its production, warehousing, and fulfillment operations to the area.

As envisioned by Stephen Alexander, owner of Indianapolis-based Prince Alexander Architects, the partially redeveloped area would be known as Stockyards District. It would run along Drover Street—which is roughly parallel to the north-south run of the White River directly to the east—between Oliver Avenue to the north and CSX rail tracks to the south.

That’s roughly one mile, with several adjacent established businesses and municipal buildings that would remain in place, including the Biltwell Event Center at 950 S. White River Parkway Drive West. (A portion of Drover Street in the proposed Stockyards District area also is known as South White River Parkway Drive West.)

A relatively new addition to the stretch of Drover Street is a part of Alexander’s vision: the $30 million Back 9 Golf and Entertainment venue, which opened last year northeast of the intersection of Drover Street and South White River Parkway West. Alexander is a partner in the Back 9 ownership group.

In addition, Hotel Tango Distillery has agreed to relocate its manufacturing operations to a 42,000-square-foot warehouse building owned by Alexander at 951 W. Morris St., which is on the southeast corner of Drover and Morris streets.

Hotel Tango currently has a production facility at the Tinker House building at 1101 E. 16th St., with some production done through a contract with Middle West Spirits in Columbus, Ohio.

The move is not expected to affect the company’s tasting room and event space at Foxhole in Fletcher Place, which Hotel Tango CEO and owner Travis Barnes said will remain open “for the foreseeable future.”

“Hotel Tango’s main focus in 2023 is responsible distribution growth through on and off premises locations (stores, bars, restaurants), and laying down enough bourbon for many more years of big growth,” Barnes told IBJ via email.

“Consolidating our distilling, warehousing, packaging, and fulfillment footprints into one property will set the company up for a long term growth trajectory. We have big aspirations for the future but understand Rome was not built in one day. In order to hit our long term goals, [Hotel Tango] must first lay down a solid foundation that increases our efficiencies and margins,” Barnes said.

From there, Alexander has roughed out plans to develop apartments, a hotel and retail space along Drover, as well as to improve an existing trail in the wooded areas of the river bank. The project could include new sidewalks and angled parking along Drover Street, as well as other infrastructure improvements like updated crosswalks and new gateways at major intersections.

Alexander told IBJ that he is in the process of looking for investors. He said that in addition to land he already owns, he has control of some parcels along Drover through purchase agreements, but he would not specify which ones. He also said he has not yet finalized development costs.

“We’re going to go as big as what works, feasibly, and what investors are willing to come along with us on,” Alexander said. “We’ve got some really good anchors.”

The Stockyards name is an homage to the fact that the west side of the White River once was home to multiple stockyards and meat packing companies, including Indianapolis Stockyards Co. Inc.

The area has been under intense scrutiny for several years. The former site of the GM stamping plant is directly to the north and was the subject of several large-scale redevelopment proposals until Elanco Animal Health agreed in 2020 to relocate its headquarters to the site.

Alexander said a feasibility study for the Stockyards project has been scheduled, along with surveys of the riverbank.

Additionally, Alexander has had preliminary discussions with city officials about creation of a tax-increment financing district for the Stockyards area, which would include existing facilities such as the Edison School for the Arts (777 S. White River Parkway Drive West), Indianapolis Fire Station 19 (1004 S. White River Parkway Drive West) and the Biltwell Event Center.

While a timeline for the development of the sprawling district hasn’t yet been finalized, Alexander said he’d like to hone in on details of some projects, the apartment and retail developments in particular, by the end of this summer.

“The city is growing up, and I think this will be [a central part of] Indianapolis within 10 years,” Alexander said.

Alexander is set to present plans for the district redevelopment to the West Indy Neighborhood’s community advisory panel on Thursday.

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4 thoughts on “Architect hopes to build on momentum along White River on downtown’s west side

  1. I really wish Indy would bring something like what Oklahoma city has downtown, urban whitewater rafting.I believe it’s called RIVERSPORT Rapids. This would be a very attractive attraction for the city and visitors. Oklahoma has a canal downtown just like Indy’s. so it only makes sense for us to copy this attraction as well. This would be perfect downtown on the white river. lol

  2. Great to see White River downtown is getting more attention.
    Something that is needed.

    Steal the best ideas possible from other cities throughout the nation.

    There even cities right here in Indiana that have come with great concepts
    on incorporating their rivers to benefit their cities.
    Downtown Fort Wayne, Downtown Mishawaka, and Downtown South Bend
    have incorporated some great artistic architecture and uses.

    I hope this effort snowballs into a beautiful park area.