Downtown canal housing development raises concerns

At 26 stories, the building would be as tall as the City-County Building.
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Plans for a high-rise housing complex along the downtown canal have stirred up some strong opposition. The mayor's office is working with the Valparaiso developer to scale down the project.

Investment Property Advisors wants to build a 26-story apartment building along the 300 block of West Ninth Street on the east side of the canal.

It would be aimed at students like Aislinn Kinney on the nearby IUPUI campus.

'I think it's a good idea. We need more housing down here," Kinney said. "I've found it difficult to find a place close to school to live."

Tamara Zahn with Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. said the 485-unit complex would expand the tax base and boost the number of people living downtown, something IDI strongly supports.

But she also said the size and scope of the project have raised some concerns.

"I think most of the interest on the proposal has centered on how high it is and how dense it is, and how it fits into the neighborhood," Zahn said.

At 26 stories, the building would be as tall as the City-County Building.

The highest building on the canal now is just six stories.

Looking at a rendering of the complex, one woman walking along the canal observed, "For this side of town it would stick out like a sore thumb."

The skyline view from Euphoria restaurant at the north end of the canal would change, and so would Lauren Hutton's view from her apartment.

"I probably wouldn't like it. I live in Canal Square and I like that I can see the city and with no big high-rises in the way," Hutton said.

Plans call for a six-level parking garage with 434 spaces. Some say that's not enough, including Ron Beck, who owns office lofts just east of the proposed complex.

Beck filed a letter to the Metropolitan Planning Commission opposing the project.

Beck wrote, "The city has no idea what kind of parking nightmare this is going to create for both the people attempting to live in the apartments and for the surrounding businesses. Ultimately, they'll figure it out once everything is built and it will be too late."

Beck also raised concerns about the noise and parties that student housing might generate.

In a previous interview, Chase Sorrick with Investment Property Advisors told Eyewitness News it wouldn't be the student housing complex.

"The building is high scale, high class, a building that looks like a five-star hotel. The strategy is if it looks nice it will be respected," said Sorrick.

Mayor Greg Ballard said his biggest concern is making sure "it fits within the ambience of the canal. We've received push-back from people who've invested in the canal. We want to make sure the value stays for those who took a chance early."

Kinney, for one, isn't bothered by the scope of the project.

"It's like all tall buildings down here," she said. "It's what you ask for when you live in a big city."

While the proposal is scheduled to go before the Metropolitan Development Commission, it's expected to be continued, giving the developer more time to see if it can be reworked.