Roundup: High-profile Chatham Arch, Fountain Square, Coal Factory projects still in limbo

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Wednesday’s Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission meeting featured several high-profile redevelopment projects with potentially problematic features. Here’s a recap of the action.

855 N. East St. and 812 N. Park Ave.

Paul Vezolles of Charlotte, North Carolina, wants to demolish the one-story structure at 855 N. East St. to make way for a mix of condominiums, town houses and single-family homes over the full block. Leaders of the Chatham Arch Neighborhood Association think the project is too dense for the neighborhood and would prefer a smaller development be built on the property.

Vezolles presented his plans to the IHPC for preliminary review in November. In December, IHPC members weren’t satisfied that all of the changes and additions to the site plan they requested had been made, prompting them to call for a continuance.

chatham arch project 258px Commissioners were still concerned with the portion of the condominium building with five stories at the corner of East and Ninth streets. (Image courtesy city of Indianapolis)

As a result of Wednesday's meeting, he’s going back to the drawing board in yet another attempt to gain approval. He’s scheduled to appear again at IHPC’s March 1 meeting.

Commission members don’t like the idea of the project being broken up into two phases on the nearly two-acre property and encouraged Vezolles to return with a plan for the entire site. And, still, one of the biggest concerns is the height of the project, particularly with the condominium building rising to five stories at the corner of East and Ninth streets.

Among the changes Vezolles has made in an attempt to win approval: making a portion of the 56-unit condo building four stories and setting it back 12 feet from the street; replacing the two three-story townhouses on Park Avenue and Ninth Street with a single-family home and three duplexes; and reducing the size of the retail space to 2,400 square feet.

5543 Bonna Ave. (Coal Factory property)

Third Street Ventures, led by Antone Najem, is proposing to build a mix of affordable apartments and retail on the 2.5-acre site in Irvington and had reduced the number of units from 56 to 46 in an attempt to gain approval.

A vote by the IHPC on the project has been continued until April 5 to give the developer more time to refine the design. Commission members think it is “too repetitive” and needs “more variation.”

An entity called Irvington Brewing Real Estate LLC—investors Justin Miller, co-owner of Black Acre Brewery on East Washington Street, and Irvington property owner Bill Shank—own the 3-acre site on the southeast corner of Bonna and Ritter avenues. The partners had hoped to convert the property to a mix of restaurants, retail and artisan food production.

But they’ve reached an agreement to sell the site—which includes a 50,000-square-foot building—to Third Street Ventures.

1024, 1028 and 1034 Virginia Ave.

Indianapolis-based Pearl Cos. plans call for adding floors to two existing buildings in the heart of Fountain Square and demolishing the one-story structure on the adjacent lot at the northeast corner of Virginia and Woodlawn avenues that housed the A&M Auto 2 shop. A 60-space underground parking garage for apartment tenants also would be constructed.

The proposal would include 84 units and 10,000 square feet of retail. Overall, the development would feature three five-story buildings by constructing a new building on the lot and incorporating the facades of the two existing buildings into larger structures. The current three-story building at 1024 Virginia Ave. houses Athena’s Fashion Boutique, and the neighboring two-story building at 1028 Virginia is home to Lilly’s Soap Kitchen and an antique shop.

But commissioners expressed serious concerns about how much of the two historic buildings would be demolished.

“You literally need to rethink the entire development,” IHPC President Bill Browne said. “You need to completely start over.”

Representatives of Pearl plan to return to the IHPC March 1 to float a different plan.

638 Virginia Ave.

Keeping with the trend of continuances: Edward Battista will return to IHPC April 5 to present a design for a building to replace the existing structure at 638 Virginia Ave., south of Repeal restaurant.

Battista wants to tear down the one-story vacant, dilapidated structure originally built as a residence in the 1870s and converted to commercial use in the 1920s. But commission members said they couldn’t recommend demolishing the structure without knowing what will replace it.

Battista presented a design in November during what’s known as a preliminary review, which received mixed reactions from commission members.

That design featured a three-story building totaling 7,000 square feet and included four stalls of covered parking at the rear. Two condo units would be located on the second floor and a larger penthouse with rooftop features on the third.

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