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.
From Indy East Motel to Irvington Lofts
A few years after Indy East Motel’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 accomplished 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.
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 (now closed) and the former Dufour’s already serving as solid anchors in the commercial district, Starbucks opened in 2007, and soon after Jockamo’s 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.
The Section 42 tax credit financing 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. The property is managed and maintained by the highly reputable Mark III Management Company, and 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.
The Lofts development took an enormous amount of time, patience, and savvy to pull off. It took many partners 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.
Partners on The Irvington Lofts Apartments
IDO and Irvington Partners LLC own The Lofts. Other partners on this project included: