Drake apartments property receives five proposals for reuse

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Drake apartment building

Five Indianapolis-based firms submitted bids to renovate the historic Drake apartment building on North Meridian Street, according to public documents released Wednesday by the city of Indianapolis.

The Department of Metropolitan Development in August issued a request for proposals for updating the long-vacant, city-owned building at 3060 N. Meridian St., with a focus on low- and moderate-income housing for the eight-story, 27-unit building.

The firms that put forward ideas for the site were ALK Development; Beautified Living; a partnership of C&H Capital LLC and Near Northside Development Corp.; Flaherty & Collins; and Rdoor Housing Corp.

For a bid to be considered “responsive” by the city—a term that means it meets all parameters of the RFP and can remain in contention for a project award—the city required an offer of more than $1 million for the property, as well as fulfill requirements from the federal Community Development Block Grant program. Specifically, the grant program requires developers to allocate at least 51% of the residential units in a building to individuals and families making less than 80% of the area’s median income.

The building, which dates to 1928, has been vacant since 2016.

Details of the firms’ responses were shared publicly by the city. The disclosure of the bidders by the Metropolitan Development Commission marked the first step in what’s expected to be a months-long evaluation process before a winning bid is selected.

The city acquired the Drake property from The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in July, putting an end to a two-year-long legal battle that began when the museum said it planned to demolish the structure to make way for more parking and new exhibit space. Despite the lawsuit, the city and the museum had continued to discuss behind closed doors ways to salvage the building.

DMD is asking developers to pay the same price it did for the property: $1.015 million, paid for using federal block grant funds focused on low-income housing. The city is asking developers to identify which incentives would be necessary for the project, such as waiving zoning fees, implementation of developer-backed tax-increment financing bonds, new market tax credits and brownfield redevelopment funds, among others.

ALK Development, which is developing projects in Terre Haute and Lafayette—a 42-unit permanent supportive housing building and a 50-unit senior building, respectively—declined to share specifics about its proposal, but said it was eager to dive into the details in the future.

Andrea Kent, founder and owner of ALK, said she is supportive of the city’s effort to “secure the future” of the building through preservation and a historic designation that was bestowed on the property in 2019. She also said her firm would hope to capitalize on the property’s proximity to the IndyGo Red Line and other amenities.

“We recognize the value of restoring this landmark and providing much needed attainable and affordable housing within the historic mid-north area,” she said. “We intend to capitalize on the existing transit corridor and surrounding educational amenities that are within arms-length of the building.”

Kent said her firm is working with Indianapolis development firms Third Street Ventures and Stenz Corp., and architectural and engineering firm Cripe on the proposal.

Representatives for recently incorporated firm Beautified Living also did not offer specifics, but said it planned to apply its principals’ experience in rehabilitating previously vacant and abandoned apartment properties like Audubon Court in Irvington and Penn Arts in the Old Northside to the restoration of the Drake.

“Our scope is built upon restoring the building’s original grandeur, while modernizing mechanicals, features, and amenities” of the property, owner Jeffrey Sparks said. “Additionally, the project is set to serve the residents and greater Mid-North neighborhood with impactful, onsite community services in partnership with a [not yet publicly identified] nonprofit organization.”

Beautified Living was incorporated in January, and Sparks said the company is focused on developing “more attainable, beautiful homes for our neighbors” such as a redevelopment of The Drake property.

The proposal from C&H Capital LLC—a partnership of Crestline Development and Hubbard Development Co. LLC—would involve incorporating the existing Drake building into a larger development that would consist of rehabilitation of the structure and new construction on other parts of the property.

Details of the project, proposed as a partnership between C&H and the Near North Development Corp., cannot yet be made public, said Daniel Hubbard, a principal for Hubbard Development. He said the partnership would look to work with IU Health, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and Ivy Tech “to shape the future development of our shared community.”

He said the proposal focuses on the preservation of the original structure “while adding a new extension to the rear of the main building,” to allow for compliance with accessibility laws. The expansion would include a parking structure and an unspecified number of additional units, with hopes of keeping the entire Drake development geared toward affordable housing as outlined in the RFP.

Rdoor Housing Corp. said it hopes to pair the 27-unit Drake structure with its 48-unit Admiral Apartments property directly across Meridian Street, as part of a $17.4 million project.

The firm, which operates about 3,600 affordable housing units across Indiana, earlier this year moved its headquarters from Carmel to downtown Indianapolis.

“We think we have a compelling proposal combining the two projects together with more impact than the Drake alone,” said Bryan Conn, vice president of development for Rdoor. “We have extensive experience in affordable housing development and our project team together has notable experience renovating historic buildings.”

Conn said the rehabilitation-driven project would consist of mixed-income housing once it’s completed, with some operational efficiencies between the two buildings.

A representative for Flaherty & Collins did not respond to a phone message requesting comment on the firm’s proposal Wednesday afternoon.

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9 thoughts on “Drake apartments property receives five proposals for reuse

  1. And I love the Drake.
    I was the last tenant of the top floor grand suite, with a view all the way to Ohio. Sunrises were amazing.
    No doubt that huge apartment will eventually be carved into smaller units, but I was glad to have that once-in-a-lifetime experience.

    1. THat’s amazing. Always wanted to go into that building. Sad but equally excited to see what do with it.

  2. I am a self admitted building hugger. I love beautiful old buildings with good bones like the Drake and have been involved with it for some 9 or 10 years.. Hugged the old St Vincent Hospital until it became a gorgeous part of Ivy Tech. Volunteered to swing the first sledgehammer on Winona Hospital before it came down.

    Tore down the nearby Whitestone and I was OK with that. Same for five buildings south of Trinity Church on the other side of Meridian St. But the Drake…you gotta see it to really understand GREAT bones!

    Sure, the Drake has challenges. Structural, HVAC, elevator, plumbing, windows….. But WOW, if we can save that building, it would be so worth it.

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