Developer of timber-built office project in Broad Ripple seeks abatement

gershman office project in broad ripple
An early rendering of the Madera project in Broad Ripple. (Image courtesy of Gershman Partners)

The developer of an unusual, $17 million office building planned in Broad Ripple is requesting a tax abatement for the project that could save it more than $1 million.

The Madera, a three-story structure with a fourth-floor balcony level planned for the east side of the 6400 block of Ferguson Street, is being developed by Indianapolis-based Gershman Partners. The Class A office project has been designed with an all-timber frame and concrete floors.

The city’s Metropolitan Development Commission will consider the request for the 10-year abatement at its April 6 meeting. It would save Gershman roughly $1.35 million on real property taxes.

The request also must be approved by the City-County Council and the Metropolitan and Economic Development Committee before eventually returning to the MDC for final approval, likely in May.

Gershman announced the 56,000-square-foot project in early March 2020, but it has been delayed for two years due to the pandemic and escalated construction costs.

The building’s design will feature mass timber and cross-laminated wood, with concrete floors on every level. Such a design is rare for larger commercial buildings. The exterior would be wrapped with glass, steel, zinc and other materials.

Initial plans called for a $20 million, five-story structure and a ground floor composed of a 34-space parking garage, bicycle storage and a lobby. The latest plan retains the same square footage, but apparently in a shorter building, according to city filings.

Representatives of Gershman did not return IBJ messages seeking clarification and a timeline for the project.

The project also is expected to improve both Ferguson and 65th Streets by adding public sidewalks, removing encroachments and creating 12 on-street parking spaces.

If granted the abatement, Gershman is still expected to pay a base tax of at least $24,169 annually, with an additional $562,245 in taxes for new construction over the life of the abatement. After the 10-year period, the firm would pay about $206,381 annually in property taxes on the improvements.

Gershman plans to pursue one or more tenants for the property who by 2025 would create a total of at least 50 jobs with an average wage of $20 per hour.

The firm has also committed to donating 5% of its abatement savings—$67,500—to the Broad Ripple Village Association to support infrastructure projects and grant programs in the neighborhood.

StructureCraft, a Canada-based firm, has been hired as a contractor and will provide wood harvested and grown in that country.

The project would occupy four parcels between 6407 and 6419 Ferguson St., which are occupied by four residential-style buildings that have housed short-term rentals and small businesses.

Gershman told IBJ in 2020 that the four parcels were under contract, and the buildings would be demolished to make way for the project.

The development will sit immediately west of an unrelated Gershman project at the former Books & Brews  building at 6420 Cornell Ave., which faces the Monon Trail. Gershman acquired the property in early 2020 for $750,000.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that the Metropolitan Development Commission had approved a tax abatement for the Madera project. The story has been changed to reflect that the MDC will first consider the request for the abatement on April 6.  You can see all of our corrections here.

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23 thoughts on “Developer of timber-built office project in Broad Ripple seeks abatement

  1. I would love to see mass-timber and concrete structures be successful to the point where this technology starts to trickle down into high-quality affordable residential buildings with improved useful life expectancies.

    1. Especially if the exterior matched the mass timber-lodge look. The ‘village’ atmosphere could have been enhanced. This looks like anywhere USA.

  2. Abatement for an office building?? I thought that was for the creation of manufacturing jobs not someone that wants to move to a new office!

    1. Fifty jobs that pay $20 per hour (that’s an annual gross payroll of $2.08 million). Who cares if they toil in a factory or in an office? Jobs are jobs, and the people who will hold these will also likely live and dine in and around Broad Ripple.

    2. At $20 per hour, that’s about $40,000 per year, well below median income. At that salary level people will likely “dine in and around Broad Ripple” at QSR chains they can walk to, like Mickey D’s, Chipotle, and Jimmy John’s, and they probably won’t be able to afford apartments our houses in BR.

    1. Scott G. – Time for a little education. Timber-frame buildings are, by nature, very safe in a fire environment due to the density of the wood. Did you also know that fire-charred timber actually has more strength than it had before being exposed to flames? It’s true, because when timber is heated within the flames of a fire, the grains of the timber are fused even tighter together, resulting in a stronger, more durable board. That why – and how – building codes allow taller timber-framed buildings. The tallest timber-frame building in the US is Carbon12, an eight-story condominium tower in Portland OR, completed in 2018. The tallest in the world is the University of British Columbia’s Brock Commons, an 18-story dorm completed in 2016.

    2. Murray R. – Scott’s comment consisted of three sentences, each making a different point – the last one implying the building’s wood framing would burn, leaving only the concrete floors. I challenged his lack of knowledge on that point, leaving it to others to agree or disagree with his first two points (which seems to be typical complaints that are both superficial and debatable).

    3. Broad Ripple is actually still quite lovely. Of course, it’s usually the ones who never even visit a place who like to complain the loudest.

    1. The only constant in cities is change. The latter half of the 20th Century, with Federal and State programs geared toward outward suburban expansion and gutting urban areas, set an unrealistic expectation that neighborhoods are built once and then locked in. But that half-century was a fluke. For the 12,000+ years that urban settlement has existed, cities have always been evolving and changing to meet the needs of their peoples.

      “Village” is arbitrary. Greenwich Village in NYC is orders of magnitude denser than Broad Ripple Village, but it’s still called “the Village.”

  3. Come on Eric… why does this have to look like a 1970s office building in Carmel?
    This project should have retail uses and even balconies. Do the windows open?
    This is BroadRipple after all , a walkable community, not an office park.

  4. The whole point of Broad Ripple was charm, at least by day. Human scales homes doubling as shops, etc. What is its new point? Change can be good. Broad Ripple needs to decide what it wants to be. If it is to be simply a canal with fairly generic buildings around it, what makes it different from its competitors?

    1. Sounds like you should keep supporting the 50+ small businesses then in those bungalows and older buildings. Support your vision of the area with your wallet. We are losing 4 buildings of marginal architecture value and use to bring 50+ daytime office persons to also support those other local businesses.

      On top of the fact that this is the first mass timber building in the city, it should help elevate the area’s profile from an architecture and cultural standpoint.

  5. Everyone complaining about the way the building looks – you do realize that this is only a rendering, correct? And that it’s not even a rendering of the project as currently proposed?

    1. You do realize that the BEST a project ever looks is in the first renderings, right?

  6. Regardless of what replaces most the of the crumbling and termite-ridden early 20th century dwellings, no other neighborhood in the city offers the natural amenities Broad Ripple does and new ones yet to be built.

    It is totally unique. And within half a mile in any direction live the most highly educated, highest income earning, and most valuable property owners, arguably, in the state.

    If you know, you know.

    1. More like a mile and a half. Source is the US Census.

      Williams Creek, Dawson Lake (Oops, “Oxbow”), Arden, Forest Hills, and MK are the neighborhoods.

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