City pushes for more affordable housing in trio of development requests

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The Department of Metropolitan Development on Thursday rolled out three new housing-focused requests for developer proposals for vacant city-owned sites in Martindale-Brightwood, in the Sherman Park area and on the near-west side of Indianapolis.

The announcement came a week after city officials released a pair of RFPs—requests for proposals—to redevelop downtown’s Jail II and the Arrestee Processing Center, as well as the eastern wing of City Market.

“A history of discrimination has left Indianapolis neighborhoods divided by wealth, income, and opportunity,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett in a statement. “We are committed to a neighborhood development strategy to keep all residents moving forward. Whether through affordable housing opportunities or creative commercial development, we’re working to expand opportunity in Indianapolis neighborhoods.”

The first request is for affordable housing on a 1-acre slice of property at 2434 and 2444 Winthrop Ave. that’s been largely vacant for a decade. Under its zoning as light industrial, it’s been used for bakery truck maintenance and parking, storage and auto-repair. But, the RFP notes, that’s “a legacy of past uses that would be incompatible with current desired end-uses.”

The city wants developers to design a housing complex with a focus on three-bedroom or larger spaces, with at least 51% of units set aside at rates affordable to those making 80% or less of the area median income.

Responses are due Feb. 17.

The second RFP is for a 7-acre chunk on the southeast corner of the 50-acre Sherman Park on the near-east side.

This request, for mixed-use housing, is part of an area-wide planning process for the site, which once hosted a massive RCA manufacturing complex. The city wants developers to include an affordable housing element, likely workforce-style housing, and ground-floor retail or commercial space.

Responses are due March 25.

The third covers three properties on the 148-acre Central State Campus on the near-west side. The campus has filled in with new development since its days as a hospital complex, but Old Indianapolis Fire Station #18, the Central State Powerhouse and the Tibbs Avenue Garage and Complex are all up for rehabilitation and adaptive reuse.

“These are sites that have been historically challenging to address,” said DMD Director Scarlett Andrews. “The firehouse and the powerhouse both had previous interest from developers, plans that kind of fell through for various reasons, and so you know, [we’re] trying to put them out there again for new interest.”

Responses are due April 18.

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8 thoughts on “City pushes for more affordable housing in trio of development requests

    1. Agreed. Greater density and mixed-use are essential for more affordable housing that people actually want to live in. Bonus points if located near one of the new BRT lines!

  1. I think the last high rise built in Indy was on the old Market Square site and “required” massive taxpayer subsidies. I’m highly confident we won’t be seeing high rises on any of these sites that are all a couple miles outside the Mile Square. These neighborhoods would benefit more from well designed and properly located low- to mid-rise buildings than a tower surrounded by open space.

    1. Thanks Leslie. I found this in the 24th & Winthrop RFP: “ The Site is currently zoned I-2 Light Industrial, a legacy of past uses that would be
      incompatible with current desired end-uses. The City is requesting proposals for 1-,
      2-, 3- or 4-unit residential redevelopment of the Site that will align with existing
      plans.” So, the City is asking for proposals for residential development, which is currently illegal per the City’s zoning ordinance. Why wouldn’t the City change the zoning to allow the type of development that they desire for the property before asking developers to submit proposals?

    2. It may be because there is a pretty wide range of zoning categories, with lots of options even within subcategories like “mixed-use.” Whatever that site is rezoned as depends on the specifics of the chosen developer’s proposal.