Irvington Green Initiative just kicked off the Resilient Community Building series with a meet-up at Bittersweet on January 28. The group focused on renewability via community recycling and composting. About 30 Irvington neighbors enjoyed communing over Laura Johnston’s light appetizers.

If you missed the meet-up, here’s something you can do right now. Call Mayor Joe Hogsett (317-327-3601) and your City-County Council rep (for many of us, it’s Blake Johnson, District 12, at 317-721-3487). Let them know you want a comprehensive, sustainable materials management plan and curbside service for all of Indianapolis!

Then, be sure to like and follow Irvington Green Initiative on Facebook for neighborhood info, ideas, and action opportunities. Contact us at irvingtongreen@gmail.com to get on our e-list for future notices.


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There’s much more to Irvington streetscape sign audubon 2 500 wthan what we find on the Washington Street corridor. In an effort to highlight those off-the-beaten-path treasures, we’ve created signage that points the way to shops, parks, and trails. IDO’s Public Spaces Committee worked with Lodge Design, who provided the design based on the Irvington logo colors for free. The city manufactured and installed the signs. One sign is installed at the intersection of Washington Street and Audubon Road, and the other is installed at Washington Street and Ritter Avenue.

“The Public Spaces Committee realized that Irvington was becoming a destination, and we needed to do something to help our visitors find parts of the neighborhood that they might miss if they just stay on Washington Street,” said Erika Hinshaw, IDO’s Public Spaces Committee chair.

We thank DPW and Lodge Design for producing and installing the signs.


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We have two announcements about the street lights included in IDO’s Streetscape project that has revitalized our Washington Street business corridor with infrastructure improvements, additional lighting and landscaping, and bike racks. IDO is responsible for paying the light bill for the 30 street lights, which costs $12,000 annually.

NAP tax credits reward donors. IDO’s tax credit allocation to help donors to the street lights fund has been extended. It’s a great way for you to help the Streetscape stay bright, clean, and green while also saving some green on your taxes. The state offers Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) tax credits to individuals and businesses who donate to eligible programs, including the Streetscape.

For the next two months, up to $1,158 in donations to the street lights fundstreet light are eligible for a direct credit against the taxpayer’s state tax liability up to 50% of the donation amount. The minimum donation is $100 and it must be made before March 31, 2017.  So for a $100 donation, you can take $50 off what you owe in state taxes. You can also claim the full $100 as a deduction on your federal taxes if you itemize, further lowering your out-of-pocket costs. For more information on how you can help the Streetscape and save money, contact margaret@irvingtondevelopment.org.

HICC pledges an annual donation. At its January meeting, Historic Irvington Community Council voted in favor of supporting streetscape maintenance with an annual $2,000 contribution to the street light fund. That’s five streetlights and 17% of the bill! Thanks especially to council Vice President Mike Spilbeler, who introduced the donation to the council for approval.


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At its February 1, 2017 hearing, IHPC advised Feb 2017 IHPC Coal Yard wCoal Yard developers to rework their application for a certificate of appropriateness for the Bonna Avenue property. The commission asked developers to reconsider architectural style and landscaping for the site. The City of Indianapolis videotapes these hearings and posts them publicly online.

The site proposal in the application incorporated suggestions that Irvington neighbors contributed during the past four months in community meetings, emails and phone calls, and face-to-face meetings with the developers and IDO staff and board members.

Developers will resubmit the application, and the commission will hear the case on April 5, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. in the public assembly room at the City-County building. Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission (IHPC) holds design and zoning jurisdiction over 12 designated historic districts to preserve the character and fabric of historically significant areas and structures.


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By Nancy Larner Ruschman

Remember the former Indy East Motel? If you do, you might recall what an eyesore the structure was, not to mention the crime and other troublesome elements it attracted. In 2006 the city revoked Indy East’s license to operate, and finally shuttered it in 2009 due to an extremely high number of police runs and neighbor complaints on this nuisance property. Here’s how a blighted property became a popular, affordable living space.

Photo courtesy of Bill on Flickr, at https://goo.gl/VvhRoJ

Photo courtesy of Bill on Flickr, at https://goo.gl/VvhRoJ

From Indy East to Irvington Lofts

A few years after Indy East’s closing, Irvington Development Organization (IDO) stepped in and purchased this property at 5855 East Washington Street from the county, and in 2011 received the green light from the city to demolish the structure and build a proposed 50-unit apartment complex, which was pivotal for the ongoing redevelopment of the Irvington commercial district.

For those who might not be familiar with IDO, our mission is consistent with the transformation of the Indy East Motel into the The Irvington Lofts. We “work 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.” IDO accomplishes all of this with only one employee and a volunteer board made up of Irvington residents and business owners. Given our mission, we saw a fantastic opportunity to replace a blighted site with a new structure that would bring investment to the Irvington community.

Photo courtesy of One 10 Studio

Photo courtesy of One 10 Studio

And invest we did. IDO received Section 42 tax credits for the site, which sweetened the pot for project investors. Various partners, through Great Lakes Capital Fund (now Cinnaire), invested $8.7 million in the new apartment building, which offers primarily one-bedroom apartments balanced with a few studios and two-bedroom units. Additionally, Franciscan Health redeveloped the 50-year-old doctor’s office to the west of the apartments with some of the same partners. These two properties represent an $11 million investment.

Investments in the Irvington Business Corridor

In addition to working on The Lofts, IDO brought increased interest to the business corridor and new business blossomed in the heart of Irvington. With The Legend and the former Dufour’s already serving as solid anchors in the commercial district, Starbucks opened in 2007, and soon after Jockamo opened, followed by Black Sheep in 2010 and Ossip in 2012. Black Acre, a true game changer in Irvington, opened in 2013, and from there several additional businesses opened their doors between 2013 and 2016, most of which have flourished.

From 2012 to 2016 IDO completed Phases 1 and 2 of the Irvington Streetscape, plunging another $2.9 million into the community. IDO also facilitated an additional $2.5 million in public infrastructure in Irvington in just the past two years. The improvements in Irvington have moved beyond the business corridor to include a rise in home values as Irvingtonians have seen the median assessed value of their homes climb to $90,000, an increase of $8,700 over the last six years.

Photo courtesy of Margaret Lawrence Banning

Photo courtesy of Margaret Lawrence Banning

The Section 42 tax credit financing (see sidebar for more info on this topic) helped to make possible a number of desirable features that make The Lofts extremely energy efficient and sustainable: a community garden, a green roof, a cistern to collect rain water, a solar roof, and a permeable courtyard, in addition to meeting space that residents and neighborhood groups can use at no charge. The apartment opened its doors to residents in September 2012 and attained full occupancy within a few short months. Due to the tax credits, the rents are affordable for households making moderate income. Rents range from $270 to $675 depending on the unit and each household’s income. The property is managed and maintained by the highly reputable Mark III Management Company, and the waitlist now stands at up to two years out.
The current leaseholders at The Lofts include 44 individuals who live alone; four single moms (one child each); one married couple, and one roommate pairing. Approximately nine leaseholders fall in the 18–30 year age range; 21 in the 31–50 age range; and 14 are over 50 years of age. The tenants appreciate the easy walkability of the location and access to frequent bus service. With 50 dedicated parking spaces, there is consistently plenty of open and available parking.

Time, Patience, and Finally, Successcrafts party

The Lofts development took an enormous amount of time, patience, and savvy to pull off. It took many partners (see sidebar) and months of planning, revising, negotiating, and compromising. The original project plan went through several revisions in order to adjust to conditions in the field and meet the requirements of government regulators and investors, as is the case with any development project.

IDO and Irvington Partners LLC own The Lofts, and IDO serves as the property’s long-term owner to ensure that the apartments will remain an asset to the community for many years to come.

Potential Development of Additional Apartments

IDO continues its mission to improve the quality of life in the community and is currently involved in another potential development along Bonna Avenue with many of the same partners mentioned in this article. As with The Lofts, this development is going through several revisions, as the initial plan for the Coal Factory business development is no longer a viable option. IDO and partners have instead proposed an apartment development much the same as The Lofts, and it is tentatively name Coal Yard Lofts. IDO continues to seek public input on this proposal and recently hosted its third public meeting (on January 10). The development team presented the revised drawings and specifications and invited community input on the project.

IDO’s hope is that this development will be much like the very successful Irvington Lofts development. Now that The Lofts is holding a two-year waitlist, the need for additional moderate-income dwellings is a much-needed commodity in the Irvington community.

Want more information on Irvington Lofts or wish to add your name to the waitlist? Contact Jenni Scales at Mark III Management at 317-356-2460.

For more information on the potential new development on Bonna Avenue, please contact Antone Najem, antone@thirdstreetventures.com, or Margaret Banning, 317-260-0669, margaret@irvingtondevelopment.org.

Section 42 versus Section 8 Tax Credits

The Irvington Lofts was financed by selling tax credits from the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority (IHCDA). The residents who live in Section 42 units must be income- and program-eligible. The rent that a resident will pay is capped at a fixed amount (subject to cost of living increases) and includes utilities which are the resident’s responsibility. In rental assistance programs such as Section 8, the resident’s rent is based on 30% of his/her income, and the remaining adjusted portion is funded by the federal government. The Section 42 program is not a government-subsidized rental program. Since the inception of this tax credit program, there have been over 150 Section 42 projects developed in Indianapolis alone.

IDO’s Operations

IDO is funded from individual donations, memberships, grants, fundraisers and project administration monies. Project admin dollars are funds that are built into the cost of the project and paid to the developer (IDO) to manage the project.

Partners on The Irvington Lofts Apartments

IDO and Irvington Partners LLC own The Lofts. Other partners on this project included:

  • Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority (IHCDA)
  • The Marion County Commissioners
  • The City of Indianapolis
  • Great Lakes Capital Fund
  • Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC)
  • First Financial Bank
  • ONE 10 STUDIO Architects
  • McKinley Development.

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By Heidi Unger

On the second Tuesday of 2017, Third Street Ventures and Blackline Studio presented the third version of the site proposal for the Bonna Avenue property. The design is a hybrid of previously presented designs, created with neighbor feedback in mind. The proposal (including any minor tweaks resulting from the community discussion) will be submitted to IHPC for approval, and the commission will hear the case on February 1, 2017 at the City-County building. Download the 2-1-17 IHPC Agenda and Coal Yard Staff Report PDF. (If you’d like to watch the meeting where this project was discussed, check out Irvington Development Organization on YouTube.)

First-floor commercial and community space

First-floor commercial and community space

Community members (approximately 40 in attendance) viewed the new site plan, which includes a two-story, L-shaped, mixed-use building. The commercial portion of the building features a modern-looking brick and wood exterior, accented with a two-story trellis. The residential façade features gables and board and batten siding, a nod to the surrounding residential area. Apartment units cantilever outward from the main structure to provide additional space and soften the exterior look. The highest point of the building is two feet shorter than the adjacent commercial property on Ritter Avenue.

Residential units facing Bonna Avenue

Residential units facing Bonna Avenue

The development, previously referred to as The Coal Factory, has been renamed Coal Yard Lofts, noting the urban feel of residential space with high ceilings and exposed duct work and the absence of industrial (factory) space in the building.

The building’s anchor is a 3,000 square-foot, first-floor commercial space and community room with glass overhead doors. The community room faces Bonna Avenue and the Pennsy Trail. The commercial space is designed for three business or retail tenants, such as a coffee shop.

The site plan includes 46 residential units. The parking area will contain spaces for 91 automobiles, which is higher than the 84 spaces required by city ordinance. IHPC will not require a parking variance. As mentioned in earlier meetings, an 8-foot privacy fence will border a portion of the irregularly shaped property.

Site drainage hasn’t been designed, but developers are committed to mitigating the drainage issues that have caused headaches for adjacent property owners. At this early stage, developers expect to include swales, potentially at the back (south) side of the building. Swales are a natural way to manage storm water. The site is also expected to include underground retention, most likely at the north end of the property.

Phase I of the environmental study is complete. If the project moves forward, a Phase II assessment will provide more detail about the scope of the work required. Developers would work hand in hand with the appropriate state and local agencies to meet or exceed any requirements for remediating site contamination.

The development team intends to use high-quality, durable building materials in accordance with IHPC recommendations and requirements, including brick, wood, and fiber cement products. Choices for exterior wood used on the building include a durable oak and ash product (depending on availability) or stained cedar. The building’s masonry stair towers will be constructed of charcoal-colored block, an architectural reference to the property’s former history as a coal yard. Galvanized metal and wire mesh railings will be installed on balconies.

The building currently occupied by Playground Productions and Black Acre Brewing will remain on the property and might at some point be sold to the current tenants. At this time, Third Street Ventures doesn’t intend to make improvements to that structure.

Regarding the upcoming milestones the project must pass, Craig McCormick of Blackline Studio says that his team is “confident about the design [which is subject to IHPC approval] and hopeful for the tax credits.”

The expectation is that IHCDA will notify applicants in late February of Section 42 tax credit awards. If the development team isn’t awarded Section 42 tax credits, Third Street Ventures might need to make changes to the site design. In that case, the developers would host another community meeting requesting neighbor feedback, and they would also be required to submit any changes to IHPC for approval.


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