Irvington Post Office Update

A lot has been happening with our lot at the corner of Ritter and Washington though it may not look it.

Just to recap, the Irvington Development Organization and the Irvington Historical Society partnered together to buy the former Irvington Post Office in late 2012. We were in the process of rehabilitating the building when it fell down in a storm in November 2013. The building was insured, but we still owe our lenders, Citizen’s Energy Group and the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), for the mortgage and a construction loan. We created an approval process and criteria by which to evaluate any prospective purchasers in order to have a transparent and equitable method to consider offers.

The committee that is charged with administering the property is made up of representatives from both organizations. Their priority has been to find a buyer who will construct a building on the site in order to restore the urban edge at this critical gateway to our business district and bring additional retail options. This will help create a deeper critical mass of shopping and activity in our district.DSCI0045

We have been trying to market the site through word of mouth and have had some nibbles so far. However, in order to increase our chances for finding the right buyer who will create the highest and best use for the neighborhood, we have proposed a plan to our lenders, which they have approved, and are more aggressively promoting the site through a number of initiatives.

First we hired Deb Kent, a neighborhood realtor, who responded to our call-out to Irvington real estate agents. She has listed the property on a number of real estate sites and is fielding inquiries. We installed a huge sign on the lot (if you haven’t noticed).

Then we hired architects, Mike Halstead and Jennifer Lofton of Halstead Architects, to create some conceptual renderings of what could be on the site.

After the building fell down and it was just a gravel lot, it seemed to shrink in size. It was difficult to remember that there had ever been a building there and to imagine that one could ever be there again. In order to help spark that imagination of what opportunities there were, Mike and Jennifer drafted some preliminary drawings of a feasible structure on that footprint.

This is not to say that this building is going to go there or should go there, but might go there, could go there. Psychologically, after seeing the renderings, it’s easier to realize that this little “postage-sized” lot could once again hold a substantial building.

This is no way addresses all the challenges that this site possesses, but we are trying to prepare for some of the hurdles that lie ahead. We presented the drawings to the neighborhood at a well publicized meeting of the Historical Irvington Community Council on June 23, 2015. Those in attendance enthusiastically reacted to the images. Not only did they admire Halstead’s designs, they become optimistic about the potential for the corner.Irvington PO Rendering 2

We also showed the renderings to staff from the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission. We did not present it for approval, just to get feedback, and it was well received. Meg Purnsley, Principle Architectural Reviewer, thought something like this, with similar scale and massing, could be favorably received by the commission. She also gave some guidance on addressing potential issues that may arise when trying to develop the site.

We will also be sharing the designs with the city’s Departments of Public Works and Code Enforcement to try to foresee any issues that a developer would encounter and resolve them as much as possible beforehand.

Momentum is building for the humble little corner and we are already receiving serious inquiries about the site. With the imminent completion of the Pennsy Trail alongside, we are hoping more prospective purchasers will see the potential and we’ll find the right fit for the old Post Office and Irvington.

For more information, please contact Margaret Lawrence Banning at margaret@irvingtondevelopment.org or call 317-260-0669.

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About Irvington Development Organization

Irvington Development Organization, founded in 2002, works for the benefit of Irvington by cultivating positive business development, promoting the unique character of our neighborhood and enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors. Irvington is a historic community on the East Side of Indianapolis known for its winding, tree-lined streets and architecturally significant homes and businesses.

 

 

 


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Welcome to our June Newsletter! This month we’re highlighting one of our youth volunteers, Adam Warner. You’ll find more stories of interest in the full version of the June newsletter. Happy reading!

Youth Voice in Irvington: New Volunteer, Adam Warner

Many of you who read our newsletters and blog may have noticed that we’re highlighting an Irvington neighbor or business each month. Our Communications team thought this would be a good way to bring the faces and places of Irvington to life. We also thought it important to bring a younger voice into our newsletter as it’s been heavily focused on content that appeals to the 20-plus-year-old crowd.

Luck would have it that soon after stating this goal, a young man contacted me with an interest in writing for IDO. That young man is 15-year-old Irvington resident, Adam Warner. I asked if he might be interested in occasionally interviewing Irvington youth for our newsletters and blog and he accepted.

Before we had Adam begin this venture, we thought it might be a good idea for you to get to know him. Below is a letter he wrote to us regarding his interest in volunteering with IDO, followed by his interview.

We are seriously impressed with Adam’s mature approach to this volunteer opportunity. We hope you enjoy getting to know him and the young folks he’ll be introducing us to!

Nancy Larner Ruschman
IDO Board Member and Chair of IDO Communications Committee

Youth volunteer, Adam Warner. Selfie in front of the Irvington United Methodist Church.

A few words from Adam
Dear IDO,

To begin this letter, I want to thank the Irvington Development Organization for

allowing me the opportunity to volunteer in a meaningful way, by helping the community I have lived in my whole life.

I chose to volunteer with this organization as it is active in projects that are beneficial not only to myself, but also to the many members of the community I know so well. Promoting and advertising development is a positive aspect that Irvington is lucky to have, as it creates an enthusiasm for residents as they discover the new venues that affect their lives. The lively entertainment and vibrant atmosphere that surround Irvington today have not always been present, and I look forward to contributing in making positive changes as the community breaks new boundaries.

The potential I see with Irvington is limitless, and working with the IDO in moving forward is a newfound goal of mine, and one I hope to accomplish.

Sincerely,

Adam

Interview with Adam Warner

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Adam, a 15-year-old, lifelong Irvington resident! I went to Irvington Community Schools from K-8, and now go to Herron High School. 

Why did you decide to volunteer with Irvington Development Organization?

I think Historic Irvington is an awesome community, and want to help it in any way I can! There are a lot of improvements to be done, and think it would be awesome to see those happen.

What do you like to do for fun?

I love to read and watch movies, but I am usually really busy with school and after-school activities.

What are your top three favorite places in Irvington and why?

My top three places in Irvington are the Benton House, Wylie’s, and Starbucks because they’re such a cool combination of locations.

If you were the Mayor of Irvington what is one of the first things you would do?

I would try to add more development in West Irvington, as it has a lot of potential I would like to see!

 

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About Irvington Development Organization

Irvington Development Organization, founded in 2002, works for the benefit of Irvington by cultivating positive business development, promoting the unique character of our neighborhood and enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors. Irvington is a historic community on the East Side of Indianapolis known for its winding, tree-lined streets and architecturally significant homes and businesses.

 

 


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Hot off the press! Below is a reprint of the June 16 IBJ article on the redevelopment of the former Irvington Post Office site located on the north east corner of Washington St and Ritter Ave.

 

Irvington officials seeking developer for high-profile parcel

June 16, 2015

Irvington officials hope a highly visible vacant lot along East Washington Street is ripe for development after high winds blew through the area nearly two years ago and reduced their original plans to a pile of rubble.

Strong storms in November 2013 toppled much of the former post office building at the corner of Washington and Ritter Avenue, which had stood for 110 years.

The Irvington Development Organization and the Irvington Historical Society bought the building and were in the process of stabilizing it to attract a commercial buyer. With the building gone, IDO now is working with a blank canvas.

The group has listed the 49-foot-by-120-foot parcel for $25,000 and is seeking proposals from developers. The group also is working with an architect on a conceptual drawing to show potential developers what the lot could accommodate. IDO ideally wants a three-story building with retail on the lower level and apartments above.

“We want to show a developer what could go there and help inspire some imagination,” IDO Executive Director Margaret Lawrence Banning said.

The site is challenged not only by its small size but lack of parking as well. So IDO is “running as many traps as possible” to showcase the site and will present its plans to both the neighborhood and the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission.

“We just want to make it easier for anybody who wants to go in there,” Banning said.

Irvington residents can learn more about IDO’s plans at a June 23 meeting set for 7 p.m. at the Irvington Presbyterian Church, 55 S. Johnson Ave. Locally based Halstead Architects is working up a sketch to unveil at the meeting.

Deb Kent, an Indianapolis real estate agent who resides in Irvington, is listing the property for IDO and so far has receives “some nibbles,” she said.

“It needs to enhance the community,” Kent said of the project. “It can’t be a Dollar Store or a check-cashing place. It just needs to be something that we can all be proud of.”

Irvington officials are excited about the opportunities, despite the loss of such a historic structure.

Constructed in 1903, the two-story building had not been used as a post office for years and had been slated for demolition in 2012. It had been vacant since 1997.

But IDO and the Irvington Historical Society bought the building in hopes of saving it. The groups raised $12,000 and landed another $50,000 grant for the work.

Steel supports were scheduled to be delivered a day after the storm, and façade work was set to begin last spring. IDO also had planned to install a new roof on the building.

The location is prime Irvington real estate, Kent said.

“If you look at East Washington Street, it’s the only open lot [in the neighborhood],” she said.

IDO hopes to have a buyer for the property by the end of the year, Banning said.


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Our May Newsletter is full of great stories! We’re highlighting one written by Irvington neighbor, Heidi Unger, on the annual Discover Irvington event. To read the full newsletter, click here!

Discover Irvington
by: Heidi Unger

ecac57e2-da3a-4d36-8687-e21ac3e3649aLast weekend, the Discover Irvington festival (formerly known as Celebrate Irvington) brought Irvington residents and friends, business owners, and community organizations into the heart of Irvington to celebrate the neighborhood’s unique character and positive growth.

The annual Irvington Business Association event is designed to help businesses and nonprofit organizations engage the community and offer information and entertainment. Festival organizer Allison Luthe said, “We accomplished our goal of bringing more attention to the great flavors, shops, and cultures that make up Irvington. The streets were filled with excitement, conversation, and creativity. Thank you to the visitors, community partners, volunteers, and businesses who made it all possible.”

This year, in booths and shops along Audubon Road, Washington Street, and Johnson Avenue, nearly 50 businesses participated in the Discover Irvington marketplace, and 20 community organizations 7391c8a6-c7f8-4bb3-bd0a-c882f0de273erepresented their causes. Luthe was pleased that “the event drew new businesses into the association and brought a broad array of media attention to the neighborhood, including Fox 59’s Your Town Friday segment, broadcast live from Dufour’s. “

Shoppers visited the bricks-and-mortar stores at the festival and shopped from Retulled’s d ress racks, chose from a selection of vintage and handmade items from Audrey’s Place, and enjoyed sweet treats from Robbybaby’s Kitchen. ARPO brought some adorable, adoptable dogs. Keep Indianapolis Beautiful promoted its popular Adopt-A-Block beautification program. Irvington Garden Club sold native plants, and Good to Grow displayed an aquaponics food production system. At the Alternative Gift Fair in the Irving Theater, artisans offered a broad array of handmade items, including jewelry, pottery, woodcraft, art glass, photographs and paintings, and soaps and lotions.

Music lovers enjoyed a very successful new aa65e3b73-8502-4aeb-b0b0-d9e3378fb112ddition to the event: the Irvington Acoustic Blues Festival, at Playground Productions. Throughout the day, six blues acts performed to a full house, and attendees snacked on complimentary chili and salsa from Chef Dan’s and La Mexi-Gringa. Festival director JJ Stenzoski said, “We estimate attendance during the four-hour festival to be between 300 and 350 people of all ages.” Performers included the popular Delta Duo, Gene Deer, and Jason Hathaway. The music was a great success and, along with Coal Yard Coffee and the Bonna Shops, helped expand Discover Irvington beyond the Washington Street corridor. At next year’s festival, expect even more activity on Bonna Avenue, with the expansion of the Pennsy trail and addition of the Irvington Coal Factory development.

Go to www.discoverirvington.com for information about Irvington organizations and events scheduled throughout the year.

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About Irvington Development Organization

Irvington Development Organization, founded in 2002, works for the benefit of Irvington by cultivating positive business development, promoting the unique character of our neighborhood and enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors. Irvington is a historic community on the East Side of Indianapolis known for its winding, tree-lined streets and architecturally significant homes and businesses.

 


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Want to learn more about our community, meet neighbors and visitors, and help with a fun day?Discover Irvington Event

The Irvington Development Organization (IDO) needs community volunteers to assist with the administration of their booth during the Discover Irvington event on Saturday, May 9, 2015.  Responsibilities may include booth set up and/or tear down, Irvington and IDO related information distribution, and product sales.

There will be three shifts:

·         9:30am-12:00pm (only one more person needed)

·         12:00pm -2:30pm (only one more person needed)

·         2:30pm -4:30pm  (only one more person needed)

Volunteers will receive instructions on their responsibilities prior to the event.  Please email volunteer@irvingtondevelopment.org with your first name, last name, email address, telephone number, and preferred shift if interested.  Volunteers will be eligible to attend an annual volunteer celebration.

AND spread the word about the event – it will be a great day to meet new friends and fellow neighbors! More info on the event can be found here.

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About Irvington Development Organization

Irvington Development Organization, founded in 2002, works for the benefit of Irvington by cultivating positive business development, promoting the unique character of our neighborhood and enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors. Irvington is a historic community on the East Side of Indianapolis known for its winding, tree-lined streets and architecturally significant homes and businesses.


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