Consolidated Building Redevelopment

The Indianapolis Business Journal has reported that the long-vacant Consolidated Building is under local ownership.  The plan is to convert the structure into apartments and retail space.  This is yet another win for downtown, as this building is a beauty.  Forgive the poor photos, but these were the best that could be done with my phone.

Here’s a view of the structure from my boss’ office.  The portion of the building that is seen from the east is red brick, located just to the left of the BMO tower:

Street level from the corner of Pennsylvania and Market:

The building also includes the annex to the back:

This leaves the Illinois Building to the west of the circle as the only large vacant building downtown. Hopefully, that structure will also see a rebirth in the near future.

It will be great to see some life back in the Consolidated Building, as it as been vacant for as long as I’ve worked downtown. It has some beautiful details, and its rebirth will potentially spark some renewed interest in retail in the area.

Comments 15

  • I hope they can do something with it. I looked at it years ago for possible office use and boy was it a dungeon inside. It’s history was evident — room after small room with sinks and leftovers from past medical/dental tenants. It was supposedly an asbesto problem that cancelled a planned renovation about 15 years ago, I think.

  • The plan to make it into apartments is perfect. I’m not sure about the parking, but it will certainly address a much-needed market. There are so few apartments (when compared with demand) within walking distance to the central office district…

    • My guess is that most of the residents will either be car-free, or will store their cars elsewhere.

      • Agreed – and it definitely can be done! I lived downtown for two years and parked my car blocks away the majority of the time [even forgot where it was at times]. It is fantastic to hear the Consolidated Building will be redeveloped and converted into a mixed-use property! This made my day.

  • Does anyone know how suitable the annex (seen in the last photo) would be to host the parking? I don’t see that structure ever being very desirable as a residential component, and that was my initial assumption all along. Surely the building had some dedicated parking before it became largely vacant in the mid-1990s.

  • I don’t see parking as a huge issue. I read the article in IBJ couple of days ago, and I think that they might try get some nearby off-site parking option for residents. I would argue there is probably enough demand for no-parking apartments downtown, so I don’t even see it as an issue.

  • Very impressed with these moves forward.

  • A few more of these types of projects in the core is needed to start changing the culture for Indy. Better bus transit will follow along with more demand for infrastructure improvements and better urban design. Let’s hope.

  • I have been inside of the Illinois Building about 18 months ago and while it has some undeniably beautiful finishes and art nouveau appeal, it is generally a disaster. Venturing past the entry there are mold issues, structural deficiencies, and an MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) nightmare. A tear down and new build would be a lot more cost effective, although a true pity. How did the City and the owners let this building get so bad?

    • The short answer is that the city has limited power to force action, and the bigger the building, the more limited the power.
      The longer answer has to do with over-leveraging and then getting caught in a changing market with the wrong product or the wrong plan. This is the same scenario that causes the vacant/abandoned/foreclosed issue in neighborhood housing, decaying strip malls, declining regional malls. The longer the building stays “stuck”, the more “deferred maintenance” turns into “mold issues, structural deficiencies, and an MEP nightmare”. The worse it gets, the less likely it is to be rescued. The death spiral of real estate.

      • Very true, Chris. I have unfortunately seen the worst sides of this kind of degradation and lack of care – I was once involved with trying to redevelop/revitalize the Michigan Central Depot in Detroit. Unlike most regional strip malls, there is historical value in salvaging and maintaining the quality and style of craftsmanship that is inherent in this era of building. I just don’t see a developer or owner being able to justify saving it on a financial basis.

        • This is true of historic apartments and obsolete pre-WWII schools as well: re-use and full modernization of MEP systems, life-safety and structure is probably not possible without the “free money” in various tax credit programs.
          It was even true of Keystone Towers, which was one of Indianapolis’ most significant Brutalist developments.

  • I may be wrong, but I think the Illinois Building suffers from a once-great/now-nightmarish “dual ownership” problem that I think may have been covered here before. In the 1920s, many real estate arrangements were made wherein land owners would “sell” building rights to developers on a 99-year term lease. Thus, the physical structure of the building would be owned by the developer while the land on which it rests would be owned by another party. Difficulties obviously arose — especially when the land owners passed away and their interest was divided up between multiple descendants/beneficiaries. I had heard (and suspect it is still the case) that this may be the problem with the Illinois Building.

    • I had heard the same thing. The one point you missed is at the end of the lease the improvements revert to the land owner. So as the lease nears it’s end the developer has no incentive to lease and/improve the property, and the land owner has less reason to renegotiate the lease.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *