Apartment project destroyed by fire gets new life

Fire last year at 1645 North Park set the apartment project back several months
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Community leaders gathered Wednesday morning to celebrate the opening of the city's newest affordable housing community, one which looks far different than any other.

16 Park, at 1645 N. Park, stands out not just for its bold, contemporary design but its many eco-friendly features from its green roof technology and rain gardens to its tankless water heaters and low-flow plumbing fixtures.

The new 155-unit apartment complex opened six months later than originally planned. It suffered a huge setback one year ago this week when several buildings under construction were destroyed by a devastating fire, later ruled accidental.

Despite the setback, work soon resumed on the the $34 million project. 16 Park replaced the 35-year-old blighted Caravelle Commons.

Archie Gray called 16 Park "definitely an upgrade."

Gray and his girlfriend have lived at 16 Park for six months in a phase one building, which escaped the fire.

"It reminds me of apartments in other cities," he said. "It's nice, brand new and quiet. It's pretty good."

Bud Myers, executive director of the Indianapolis Housing Agency, said the mixed-income apartments are aimed primarily at working families, staying an average of two to three years.

"We want people to stay until their on they're on their feet. In most instances, people are using this housing as a bridge to get them into permanent housing or home ownership," said Myers.

Myers noted there's a huge need for places like 16 Park with many people on waiting lists for housing. He said there are 14,000 units still needed in the Indianapolis area.

He noted the complex also includes a community center across the street in a former IPS school, which will provide things like computer training.

16 Park is also expected to have an impact on the surrounding area.

Kimmie Burton manages the Foundry, a coffee shop which opened just a few blocks away in March.

Burton said, "What we saw was a neighborhood so thirsty to have a place to walk to."

She said it's great to see the changes taking place.

"I'm hoping this does spur more development on 16th. It's exciting to have the new 16 Park opening," she said.