The Indianapolis Public Library plans to acquire the site of a former elementary school as part of a years-long effort to build a new Glendale-area branch to replace the one in Glendale Town Center.
The library system is buying a portion of the 5.7-acre parcel containing John Strange Elementary School, 3660 E. 62nd St., for $900,000, with the Washington Township School District last week approving a purchase agreement for the site.
The sale does not include the school itself—only the land on which it was built. It’s not clear what the school district plans to do with the school building, although the purchase agreement indicates the structure could be modified or even demolished before the sale is completed.
A spokesperson for the district said it is awaiting details from Indianapolis Public library’s design team about a partial demolition of the school, but “most of the land conveyed to the Library is unrelated to the building.”
The library plans to replace the structure with a 25,000-square-foot library that would serve the Broad Ripple, Allisonville and Meridian Kessler neighborhoods, said CEO Jackie Nytes. The property is a little over a mile from the existing branch at Glendale Town Center, which opened in 2000 as the first full-service library at a major shopping center in the country.
“We’ve been looking for something … that is more easily accessible for both young families and the elderly,” she told IBJ. “We think this site would be an excellent solution for that.”
The library system has sought to build a new library in the Broad Ripple area for the past six years. Bonds for the $10.2 million project and several others in its master plan were approved by City-County Council in 2014.
The effort to replace the Glendale branch stems from a concern over the existing location’s visibility, even though it continues to be one of the system’s most popular branches.
Nytes said the new branch would benefit from being removed from the congestion in the area, while providing access to pedestrian paths, vehicular traffic and bus routes. She said in the years since plans for a new branch were announced, “accessibility challenges have just become greater and greater.”
The library’s board of directors is expected to hear a formal request to acquire the school site Aug. 24, after which the system would begin a formal community-engagement process.
The property’s purchase is expected to be completed by the end of the year, followed shortly thereafter by public input sessions. Nytes said the library plans to start construction on the new branch sometime in 2021, in hopes of giving the property a “whole new civic life.”
“Our buildings are not cookie cutters, but really kind of designed in response to community need,” Nytes said. “So we’ll launch that (public-input) process once the purchase is a certainty.”
Broad Ripple has had a library since 1930, with its first standalone location opening in 1949 adjacent to the former School 80 on Guilford Avenue. From 1986 to 2000, the branch was in Broad Ripple Park.
The library has a lease with Glendale owner Kite Realty Group Trust through 2022, paying about $189,000 per year in rent.
KrM Architects is the designer on the new project.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that only the land—not the building—is intended to be sold to the Indianapolis Public Library.