Mass Ave redevelopment project faces vote

INDIANAPOLIS - A controversial redevelopment project on Mass Ave is headed for a big vote this week, but the outcome remains uncertain, RTV6 reporter Kara Kenney reported.

The Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission will vote Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the City-County Building on the expansion of the Indianapolis Firefighters Museum.

The $5 million project will expand the building at 748 Massachusetts Ave., and will not use taxpayer money, according to Indianapolis Professional Firefighters Union Local 416 Secretary Scott Williams.

Williams said the project will include expanding to the east onto land the union currently owns, and will include new offices, additional meeting space and increased space for Survive Alive and expansion of the museum.

“We have a significant amount of material we can’t properly display,” said Williams. “We’ve outgrown the building. We were one of the first businesses to build down on the point.”

The plans also include a 32-spot parking lot across the street, but it has received some pushback from the commission.

“One of the comments the commission made is they’d like to see a building, a tall building on that property,” said Williams. “We’ve strived to meet their concerns and included a five-year sunset on the parking area.”

Williams said they need the new 32-space parking lot to replace parking lost by the new credit union building.

If the commission votes no, it could throw off an even larger development project down the street, at the corner of Mass Ave and New Jersey Street.

The $43 million project will include apartments, retail, parking and electronic art. It will relocate the Firefighters Credit Union to next to the Indianapolis Firefighters Museum.

IFD Headquarters will relocate to the Red Cross, Williams said.

Williams said the $43 million apartment and retail project at Mass Ave and New Jersey Street hinges on the smaller $5 million museum expansion, because the credit union needs to relocate.

Williams said they need the new 32-space parking lot to replace parking lost by the new credit union building.

Downtown resident Richard Sullivan has some concerns about the $43 million apartment and retail project, especially the electronic art and media mesh feature.

“It seems like it's a bad deal for taxpayers for an ugly building that has an electric billboard on it," said Sullivan.

But many are hoping Mass Ave improvements get the green light.

"Just to continue to make downtown another go to destination, which is just really important for downtown in general," said Cassie Stockamp, president of the Athenaeum Foundation. "We’re terribly enthused to be able to have a continuous line of development up and down that road with retail and housing will be really exciting for the whole avenue."

Follow Kara Kenney on Twitter: @karakenney6  | Facebook: KaraKenneyNews

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