Long-delayed, $60M project in Mapleton-Fall Creek back on track

A long-delayed, mixed-use project near Central Avenue and Fall Creek Parkway appears to be back on track as the local community development corporation shores up financing.

The Mapleton-Fall Creek Development Corp. is seeking approval for the $11 million first phase of its Central@29 project—an expansive development first announced in 2014 that would include more than 100 apartment units, retail space and a community center, as well as for-sale homes.

The initial phase consists of a single apartment building with 48 units for mixed income levels on the east side of the 2900 block of Central Avenue. Some would be market-rate, and others would be reserved for residents who make less than 80 percent of the area’s median income.

“This is one of four components … to attract housing and some community economic development opportunities back to the neighborhood,” said Leigh Evans, CEO of Mapleton-Fall Creek Development Corp.

The community development group on Tuesday will ask the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development’s Board of Zoning Appeals for several variances for the first phase, including requests related to building height, landscaping and parking.

The four-story building is expected to be 47 feet tall, which exceeds development standards of 35 feet for that area. The development would include 25 parking spaces (36 are required) and have smaller setbacks than what is generally allowed by development standards.

The original plans for the Central@29 development included six buildings and 158 units of affordable and market-rate housing, along with 19,000 square feet of retail and an 8,500-square-foot community center.

The project is now expected to include 15,000 square feet of retail space, along with a separate, 25,000-square-foot food production area. It will still have more than 100 apartments—a mix of market-rate and affordable units—but the total has not yet been finalized.

The project also will include single-family homes available for purchase and the community center, which will offer programs for residents and the general public.

Leigh said the group spent much of the past two years restructuring its vision and financing for the project, which is expected to total about $60 million. Changes in the area’s poverty level made the development corporation ineligible to receive some of the tax benefits for which it had previously qualified.

She said losing that funding in 2016 created a $3 million gap that could not be closed and took the wind out of the group’s sails. After taking 2017 to catch its breath, the group worked with the city and Local Initiatives Support Corp. of Indianapolis to create a new request for contractor proposals for the project, which was sent out in 2018. It selected the New York-based Majora Carter Group to consult on the development.

The group has submitted applications for a variety of federal financing tools, including new market tax credits, a federal low-income housing tax credit and affordable housing dollars from the Federal Home Loan banks in Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

It’s also seeking project-based vouchers, which use federal funding to help financially strapped families pay rent in approved developments. It also expects to use its own capital to help finance the project.

Other elements of Central@29 are expected to need city approval after the first phase is completed, which Leigh said could be as early as August 2021. She said Mapleton-Fall Creek Development Corp. hopes to begin construction of the first phase in summer 2020, pending approval of financing.

The architects are New York-based Perkins Eastman and Cleveland-based RDL Architects.

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