City unveils plans for Mass. Ave. development


Some big changes are in store for one of Indianapolis' most popular destinations. Thursday, city officials joined developers to unveil plans for a $43 million residential/retail development along the 500 block of Massachusetts Avenue.

"While we received many interesting proposals, this one contains the largest investment with the ideal combination of apartments, retail and parking," said Mayor Greg Ballard.

The six-story building will go up where Fire Station 7, IFD Headquarters and the Firefighters Credit Union now are. It calls for 235 apartments, 40,000 square feet of first floor retail, a two-level underground parking garage, $100,000 of public art and a large electronic screen similar to the ones in New York's Time Square.

"I'm thrilled about that," said Cassie Stockamp, head of the Athenaeum Foundation. "Can you imagine a central point that shows the activities up and down Mass Avenue or across the city?"

Stockamp said more importantly the project would add people, parking and density and "close the gap."

Whereas Mass Avenue has lots of retail, restaurants and housing at both ends, the middle segment where the fire station sits is devoid of any other development.

The development team includes the JC Hart Company, Strongbox Commercial led by Paul Kite and Schmidt Associates, an architectural firm.

John Hart said the project would capture "the whole live, work, play environment," which has become a popular trend in projects across the country. He also said it would help transform the area.

"You can't have 235 households move into an area and not dramatically impact the economy of the area," he said.

The city offered financial incentives to secure the deal. It's giving the land to developers and $3 million toward the parking garage, a deal which has drawn critics.

The city will also use money from the downtown TIF District that was recently expanded to include Mass Avenue. That expansion followed a contentious battle between the mayor's office and several Democrats who argued TIF districts are used too often and with no sunset date, funneling tax dollars away from schools, libraries and other entities.

The council approved the expanded district several weeks ago, nearly a year after it was first proposed.

Mayoral Spokesperson Marc Lotter said money from the TIF would help pay for the new fire station, expected to cost $10-$12 million. He said officials were still considering a handful of nearby sites.

Construction of the new fire station is expected to bring next spring - with construction of the new development in 2014 after the new fire station opens.

The project is expected to open sometime in 2016. The apartments are expected to range from $1,200/month for a studio to $1,600/month for a two bedroom.