Residential building boom taking place downtown

The Block 400 project is one of many residential building projects happening downtown.
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A big building boom is going on downtown and most of it is residential. In fact, according to Indianapolis Downtown, Inc (IDI) more than 30 projects worth $417 million are in the pipeline, more than ever before.

Apartments are going up at a record rate to meet the growing demand. Those wanting to live downtown include students, young professionals and empty nesters.

Many are like Kyle Pick, who just graduated with Iowa State University and took a job downtown. Last weekend, he moved into one of the just finished apartments at City Way, a mixed-used project near Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Pick said he liked the amenities and loved the location.

"I can walk to Circle Centre Mall, the canal, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, (Lucas Oil Stadium). It's a great place to live...all I'm doing now is walking and learning the city. I like it," Pick said.

He was lucky to find a place. Many would-be tenants face a waiting list.

Bob Schultz with IDI said, "The vacancy rate is at all-time low. It's 3.5 percent. We're very pleased by those numbers."

Pleased, he said, that people want to live downtown, pleased that developers are investing in housing.

He said from 2009-2014, the residential supply will have grown by 85 percent.

Milhaus Development is one of the companies riding the wave. It's currently building Artistry, a $26 million residential/retail project going up just east of the City-County Building.

During a tour of the site, David Leazenby, a partner with Milhaus, pointed out where the infinity pool, yoga studio, putting course and bocce ball court will go.

Asked why downtown has become such a hot place to live, Leazenby said, "There's been a tremendous investment by the city in downtown and that has really changed how people think about living down here."

Leazenby pointed to the Cultural Trail, Georgia Street and Lucas Oil Stadium.

Milhaus has two other downtown projects in the works and is one of the developers vying to redevelop the old Market Square Arena site.

Elsewhere, developers plan to build upscale housing where Indianapolis Fire Station #7 is on Mass Avenue and incorporate housing and retail into the Indianapolis Star building after the newspaper finds a new space.

"Indianapolis is becoming a downtown of different neighborhoods with their own identities and that's really good," Leazenby said. "You have options. Something different for everyone."

The residential resurgence is good for nearby businesses, too. Just ask the owner of Sahm's Café and Tavern, which is directly across from the Block 400 development going up on Capitol.

Michael Sahm said, "It's great for our business and the surrounding businesses. It gets people downtown and familiar with the area...It creates excitement and just a more fun environment."