Developer plans $150M apartment, retail and hotel project at 96th and Meridian

Landmark Properties has owned Meridian North since 1993. (Image courtesy of Google)

An Indianapolis-based developer is considering a massive, $150 million project that could result in hundreds of apartments, a new hotel and thousands of square feet of commercial space being built at a major north-side intersection.

Indianapolis-based Landmark Properties Inc. is in the early stages of a redeveloping the Meridian North retail and office center at the southeast corner of North Meridian and East 96th streets.

The firm is proposing major additions to the 17.8 acre property, including as many as 600 market-rate apartment units in two eight-story buildings, 145,000 square feet of commercial space, more than 1,300 parking spaces and an 86-room hotel for the unnamed project. The information comes from public filings Landmark has submitted to the city for an upcoming approval process.

The project is expected to be built in phases over the next several years.

“This is a big redevelopment project—we know that,” said J. Murray Clark, an attorney representing Landmark through the Indianapolis office of law firm Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. “It’s bold and it’s a huge capital investment in this community … but it’s a [long] process. Everybody will have a chance to weigh in.”

Clark spoke on behalf of Landmark president Brian Pahud, who was unavailable to speak about the project Wednesday night.

The existing center, which has 89,000 square feet of retail space and 71,000 square feet of office space, was built in 1978 with Kroger as an anchor. The grocer departed in 2007, leaving Landmark—which has owned the property since 1993—to find alternatives. Life Time Fitness has been in the 44,000-square-foot end-cap space for more than 10 years, but will leave after its lease expires in October.

Clark said the decision to redevelop the center follows extensive, unsuccessful efforts to find new tenants for various vacancies on the property, including the end-cap. Indianapolis firm Veritas Realty has been marketing the Life Time space for several months, but Clark said it’s unlikely a single user would be able to take the entire floor plate.

“Having a center where the anchor tenant spot is vacant isn’t good for anybody, and I think it’s [Landmark’s] desire to address that vacancy on the front end,” he said.

The project is expected to kick off with the construction of the first of two eight-story apartment buildings: a 66,000-square-foot building with 279 residential units, 305 podium-supported parking spaces and about 7,600 square feet of first-floor retail space.

The other apartment building—directly south of the first—would be larger, at about 77,500 square feet, including 4,300 of retail. The structure would include 321 units and a 365-space garage.

The project is expected to retain at least two commercial buildings, at 9311 and 9333 N. Meridian St., and a utility building, largely on the south portion of the acreage.

Two new three-story buildings with 38,200 and 27,800 square feet of commercial space, respectively, are planned for the western part of the site, fronting Meridian. The hotel would sit at the northern portion of the site, east of a Shell gasoline station that is not owned by Landmark.

Clark said Landmark doesn’t plan to cancel any leases to jumpstart the project, with several extending out to 2027 or beyond. As a result, the project is expected to take anywhere from five to 10 years to develop. Current occupants of the shopping center include a dry cleaner, two restaurants, a nail shop and a dance academy.

The redevelopment is intended to act as a “commercial gateway” for the north side of Indianapolis, Clark said, given the site nearly straddles the Marion County-Hamilton County line. It’s also directly across 96th Street from a Drury Inn & Suites, along with the 1.5 million-square-foot Parkwood Crossing office park that extends to College Avenue.

The development would include more than 640 surface parking spaces and roundabout near its middle. The parking would largely be used by retail shoppers and office workers, since the apartments would have their own dedicated garages.

Clark said planning is still in its infancy (it was first discussed in February). Several steps are still necessary to move it ahead, including meetings with city planners and utility groups, additional discussions with the neighborhood and a slate of legislative approvals.

The project generally hinges on rezoning the land from its current classifications as C-1 and C-3 commercial districts to the DP, planned development, designation. A hearing before the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals is not yet scheduled. After that, it would require approval from the Metropolitan Development Commission and City-County Council 

City-County Councilor Keith Potts, D-District 2, said he plans to meet with the developer Thursday to discuss the project. The developer iss not expected to pursue city incentives—at least for the apartment component. 

Potts said there could be considerations for infrastructure needs, but noted the matter had not yet been formally discussed.

He said he’s “inclined to support” the Landmark project because the shopping center is a location prime for redevelopment.

“When somebody is willing to invest millions and millions of dollars into District 2 to build more housing and more retail space—looking forward to the next 50 years—I’m absolutely open and supportive of that idea,” Potts said. “I just want to make sure the community comes together around it, too.”

But already, some nearby residents have reservations about the project—citing traffic flow and the size of the apartment buildings, in particular.

Jon Hogge, president of the College Commons neighborhood that abuts the property’s eastern edge, said residents he’s talked to would like to see the plan modified to feature townhouses rather than apartments.

Such a switch, he said, would reduce the influx of people to the neighborhood during heavy traffic hours—something residents there already struggle with because drivers cut through the neighborhood to avoid backups on Meridian Street.

College Commons is comprised of about 340 single-family homes, most of which were built before the 1970s.

Sally Page, president of the Belle Meade subdivision at 96th Street and Spring Mill Road, said she has also told Landmark’s leadership team she would like the project to be downsized.

“It’s going to have a negative effect, as far as I’m concerned, looking at those two big elephants just sticking out” from the neighborhood,” she said, referring to the apartment buildings.

“Those of us who have to every day fight the traffic at 96th and Meridian … we really want to be good neighbors. We think it needs to be redeveloped, but we think that this is on steroids—it’s too much, too dense, for our area.”

Page and Hogge said they understand it’s unlikely their complaints about the project won’t move the needle much with the developer, but they said they will continue to share their concerns.

The project is expected to be discussed by the Nora-Northside Community Council during an upcoming meeting. Page said she knows many residents in the Nora area as a whole are concerned about the project and the effects it could have on traffic.

Clark, the attorney, said meetings with neighbors and city officials are likely to include “some discussion” about modifications to the project, but it’s unknown what form those could take.

“It’s not our intent to develop in a way that [residents] think harms them—rather, Brian [Pahud] is trying to do this in a way that helps the community,” Clark said. “He’s reinvesting dollars into the community to make this center a thriving area for years to come.”

Indianapolis-based firm CSO Architects has been enlisted for the project.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

27 thoughts on “Developer plans $150M apartment, retail and hotel project at 96th and Meridian

  1. Mr. Clark has creatively taken our “gateway” statement from our first meeting between neighborhood leaders and the developer. We asked for a project that creates a “gateway” at 96th and Meridian by flipping the proposed mass and scale to be adjacent to North Meridian Street / US 31. As proposed the tall, massive apartment blocks crash into the single family neighborhood to the East with modest low slung office buildings and asphalt to the West. We support redevelopment and Landmark’s ability to be profitable but believe CSO Architects need to come back to the table. As is currently proposed, this solution does not speak to a quality of life and character required to improve to the existing context.

    We expressed our confidence in Landmark provided it is willing to continue to iterate new solutions for this important corner and corridor. Seeking a D-P rezoning is premature.

    1. You do realize that they don’t need your approval of site design or elevations, right? You seem more than a little entitled.

      We’ve already seen these concerns fail to have an impact in Glendale. Good luck.

    2. “As proposed the tall, massive apartment blocks crash into the single family neighborhood…”

      They are 8 stories…EIGHT…for God’s sake! That’s hardly “crashing.” The hotel across the street is taller than that!

    3. “this solution does not speak to a quality of life and character required to improve to the existing context.”

      Sorry to disappoint you, I live very close to the proposed development and support this project 100%. The website dedicated AGAINST this project speaks volumes. This is going to turn into another Keystone/86th debacle which is unfortunate. Indianapolis lags behind Carmel and Fishers mainly because of BS like this. my .02

  2. Well, whatever happens, I hope this isn’t the end for Daddy Jack’s / Kona Jack’s, two classic restaurants with ultimately a huge impact on the Indianapolis restaurant scene, the latte being where the late Greg Hardesty worked early on in his career here.

  3. The scale and mass of this proposed redevelopment would barely draw any objections whatsoever were it not for two older neighborhoods nearby. After all, to the north of the site across 96th Street sit two highrises (one an office building and the other a hotel) as well as a massive, sprawling office complex. Pretty much everything else with sight is commercial or dense condo and apartment buildings. The growth in traffic and the existing congestion is due to the fact that Meridian Street is a major artery for traffic between downtown and I-465 as well as the north suburbs while 96th Street is a major east-west artery. Most of the single-family homes in the area were built when all the surrounding land was dedicated to farming and little else. By the late 1960s, the interstate came followed by the commercial development (which was to be expected). Like it or not, the 1950s-era homes are the ones out of place in that environment. Now progress marches on, as it should given what that area already has become.

    1. Agree that the Drury Plaza is a tall building on the North East corner. Since this was in Carmel, Indianapolis neighborhoods and planning had no input or review.

      Also agree that some mass is a good thing especially employed to create a gateway. Our concern is the proposed mass and density is in the wrong zone within the development. It needs to be fronting Meridian Street.

  4. Neighbors always nebulously complain about traffic implications of new development. The reality is the 22k cars use Meridian at 96th. Any increase in traffic as a result of this development is likely to be unnoticeable in that context.

    1. The developer will be required to prepare a traffic study. As proposed in the D-P documents, the existing North development access/egress traffic intersections need a lot of work. These intersections today are dangerous and hard to negotiate turns to/from 96th Street. The neighborhood has posted some of the developer’s design proposal at springmillforum.com

    2. Thanks, I appreciate the additional info provided in those documents on the neighborhood website. Regarding traffic, I was of course responding to the vague issues that adjacent neighborhood leaders cited in this article. Without the data that a traffic study would provide, these smack of typical NIMBYism. Let’s wait to see what the study says.

      The development as currently laid out is atrocious split personality urban/suburban gobbledegook. It’s like they’re trying to create a lifestyle center with associated housing but can’t even commit to the faux urban layout typical of that design. Why have a “main street with parallel parking” but also include a standard suburban parking lot between “main street” and the retail buildings fronting Meridian? Assinine. Not to mention that the main street parking shown isn’t even technically parallel parking.

      I wish you the best of luck helping the developer get to something that makes sense!

  5. The developer should purchase a number of the adjacent impacted homes and build a larger buffer zone between the new project and the neighborhood. Does Arby’s own its lot facing 96th Street? Without seeing any renderings, hard to imagine the “new” buildings meshing well with the “old” Shell gas station and the existing Arby’s.

    1. The Arby’s parcel is owned by a separate entity, as is the Shell gas station and the dentist office at 61 East 96th Street.

    2. It’s always easier to spend someone else’s money, isn’t it? Suggesting this development should mesh with crappy run of the mill corporate designs is laughable. Hope you come to the hearings with better logic than that.

    3. The developer represented it owns Arby’s and the dentist office — these are the longer term leases the article mentions in 2027

  6. PLEASE do not uproot the delightful indoor and outdoor dining of Daddy Jacks, Kona Jacks, and Broken Egg restaurants. Additionally, apartment dwellers surely would not want to live on top of Meridian Street’s sirens, traffic, and gas fumes. That corner’s businesses draw customers from many in Marion, Hamilton, and Boone Counties. I’m there for one thing or another several times per week. If this development goes through, it sounds like it’ll remove the establishments I patronize. I’m not against some modifications and upgrades, but this proposal is over-the-top objectionable. I’ll support hoped-for Nora Community Council push backs for a much more neighborly solution.

    1. In fact NCC had a great collaboration with this developer for its additional town house development called Park Meridian on the Southwest corner of Meridian and W. 96th. More recently it helped Top Wine make it through its entitlements.

    2. NCC also supported Alexander at the Crossing – 86th and Keystone. The Driftwood Hills Neighborhood and supporters like the Indiana Forest Alliance were able to defeat that proposal twice. Once in the MDC process, and then again in the courts when the CCC overrode the decision of the MDC. The development is on hold pending a new proposal from the developer more in line with the residential character of that neighborhood. The NCC is not reflexively anti-development

  7. This is the problem I have with Indy and its backwards mind thinking residents. they’re always complaining about traffic and buildings are too BIG ect etc….. Indy is suppose to be a major metropolitan and the state capital. If this project is too big ,I suggest moving to a smaller town or suburb.I visited Nashville and Columbus ohio and neither of those cities have the issues or complaints we see here. Its sad that Indy can’t compete with our peer cities. young professionals love seeing developments like this and if Indy is to stay competitive,let alone retain talent in the area, you definitely need projects like this.If you want to be successful for the future you gotta think BIG and BOLD.Folks want a reason to move here from Chicago,LA,NYC ect.. If all Indy has is a mediocre generic setup, then Indy will continue to get passed up for more developing and exciting cities.Just look how much Nashville has grown and surpassed Indy in the last 5yrs.I want to see what a modern Indy looks like and this is a start.Dont downsize at all

    1. It’s more of a quality of design, flow and shape concern; not necessarily size. For instance rather than turn their back to Pennsylvania Street why not develop 2 story townhomes along that stretch and help reconnect a large neighborhood to this development in a meaningful way. Perhaps connect 93rd Street too. It would also be an improvement to have safe and well designed cross walks to the safer pedestrian trails on the North “Carmel” side of 96th. This would then be a strong connection to the Monon further East or to the West to get to Springmill. I don’t buy the argument another commenter mentioned about issues living along Meridian; just consider Ironworks and Ironworks 2 along 86th and Keystone Ave. THATS a much better design, scale and layout.

    2. Urban Planner…I seriously doubt 600 two-story townhomes with the required parking spaces can fit between 93rd and 96th streets in place of two eight-story apartment mid-rises with 600 units. Also, not all of the apartments need the square footage of townhouses, as the apartment buildings will likely offer a mix of variously sized studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units as well as amenity spaces perched atop parking garages.

  8. Neither too big nor to dense. Period.
    Regarding traffic, widen Spring Mill and implement improvements define in the traffic analysis report. #stopnimbyism

  9. Indy does no need regressive thinking. Yes, indy can indeed grow up and be a city with buildings taller than two stories. Progress sadly is effected by a few, dragging others kicking and screaming behind.

    Hopefully, sidewalk and streetlights will be included with the development.

    Cities have traffic. 0 traffic indicates a dead city. Indy need drastic improvement asap. Seek options to improve access, circulation and through movements as a key and indispensable element of the small area and county transportation plans.

    Columbus Ohio is now doing a much better job at comprehensive development than Indy. Not just townhouses, or high rises — but well planned multi-use developments as part of a broad based urban/suburban fabric.

  10. This is an ambitious project. I wonder how much of the surrounding office space that is tucked away between 86th and 96th is actually occupied and if this could help spur further development.

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets in {{ count_down }} days.