Indianapolis, Indiana – A historic locale in Meridian Kessler, previously known for housing a cinema and now accommodating police and fire stations, is on the verge of a significant transformation.
A request has been lodged with the Metropolitan Development Commission by city authorities to modify the zoning regulations of the car park at the Indianapolis Fire Department Station 31, and the IMPD community engagement office located at 4201 N. College Ave. The petition comes as part of a developmental collaboration with the community group, Midtown Indy.
The proposed development scheme would encompass the construction of two buildings, offering between 75 and 90 apartments, Michael McKillip, the Executive Director of Midtown Indy, has announced. The ultimate objective is to make these apartments fully affordable, catering to families earning between 30% and 120% of the median area income. The majority of these apartments will be two and three-bedroom units, alongside a few studio and single-bedroom alternatives.
Upon approval, the existing fire station at 4155 N. College Ave. would retain its functionality, while the community engagement office would be incorporated into alternative facilities.
The ground floor of the edifice, currently serving as the fire station’s car park, is earmarked to become the permanent location for Kids Dance Outreach. This Indianapolis-based charity offers free dance classes for children attending public schools in the Indianapolis region. The site located north of 42nd Street, which presently houses the IMPD office and its parking lot, is also set to be converted into an apartment complex.
In earlier times, the IMPD office parking area was the site of one of Indianapolis’ most historic cinemas, the Uptown. Established in 1926 and demolished in 1987, the Uptown’s image was featured in the Netflix film, “Dolemite is my Name.”
This new plan coincides with the city’s ambition to foster housing developments in proximity to public transport. The city recently acquired the Drake Apartments, situated near the Red Line on Meridian Street, intending to transform it into affordable housing.
The not-for-profit organization began dialogues with city authorities to create a studio in Meridian-Kessler. This led to the imminent collaboration with Midtown Indy.
According to Mónica M. Muñoz, Executive Director, Kids Dance Outreach’s mission of facilitating children’s access to arts, irrespective of expense, harmonizes with the project’s objectives, including the provision of affordable housing and accessibility to public transport. Despite a 40% increase in participants over the past five years, the organization lacks a permanent facility.
The Midtown Indy initiative is not a novel one. The organization joined forces with local developer Flaherty and Collins in the previous year, transforming the disused United Way building on Meridian Street into a structure comprising 60 affordable senior apartments and 13,000 square feet of retail space. The development, named Parkside at Tarkington, was completed last December.
McKillip added that the current project is in the initial planning phase, but the organization seeks approval from the city and the community regarding the design plan in early 2024. They also aim to apply for low-income housing tax credits to fund the project by next July. The earliest construction could commence by late 2025 or early 2026, following collaboration with a developer to actualize the planning and vision.
The rezoning proposal is scheduled for a City-County Council vote on Aug. 14.