Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Downtown apartment complex set to expand
Tom Harton   -  tharton@ibj.com
IBJ staff
Demand for one-bedroom apartments is so strong at The Waverley apartments downtown that owner J.C. Hart Co. Inc. is planning a $5.5 million expansion devoted solely to one-bedroom units.

The Carmel-based developer of apartment communities wants to add 48 one-bedroom apartments to the 164-unit complex at 151 S. East St. The Waverley's mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments and two-bedroom townhomes includes 86 one-bedroom apartments, only one of which is vacant. Overall occupancy at the complex, which opened in February 2008, is 92 percent, said Mark Juleen, Hart's vice president of marketing.

Hart filed its expansion plans with the city in the last few weeks and could get approval as soon as Sept. 10. Juleen said financing for the project isn't in place yet, but the developer could start construction as soon as next spring, with the first units available late next year or in early 2011. The new apartments would rent for between $950 and $1,100 a month, about the same as what the complex charges now for a one-bedroom.

The four-story expansion of the existing complex would feature apartments with balconies overlooking East Street on the second, third and fourth floors. A 41-space parking garage would occupy the first level. A small surface parking lot shielded from the street would provide enough extra spaces to accommodate all 48 apartments.

When Hart won its original approvals for The Waverley from the city in 2006, the vacant land along East Street that the company now wants to build on was earmarked for future development of three separate buildings for townhomes and ground-level retail space.

"As we tried to pre-lease those spaces from a commercial standpoint, the interest in the space and the market in general continued to soften," Juleen said.

The company informed the city in May that it wasn't going to proceed with the retail space, said Jeff York, a planner in the city's Department of Metropolitan Development.

York said the designs the company submitted for the brick-faced apartment building are appropriate for the seven-tenths-of-an-acre site and meet the standards of the city's newly adopted urban design guidelines. The addition was designed by Weaver Sherman Design in Broad Ripple.

If the plans are approved, Hart will have a new supply of what has been its hottest product downtown. The one-bedroom units are especially popular with young singles and couples starting careers, Juleen said. Most vacancies in The Waverley are in the two-bedroom townhouses, which rent for between $1,500 and $1,700 a month.

Scott Pollom, a senior vice president at Colliers Turley Martin Tucker, thinks the Waverley's new units will draw interest from students, professors and others associated with IUPUI. The fact the campus is on the opposite side of downtown won't matter, he said. "You find students living just about everywhere in Indianapolis."

Pollom said he's been fielding more calls lately from investors who want to find properties close to university campuses. He said student housing is considered a safe bet in spite of the depressed real estate market.

"But there's a nice universe of renters downtown," said Pollom. "It's not just students."

The Waverley is the only downtown Indianapolis property in Hart's portfolio of about 2,500 units. The company has two properties in Bloomington and one near Dayton, Ohio. The rest of its holdings are in the Indianapolis area. The company is in the process of building a 287-unit complex at 146th Street and River Road in Carmel and is about to break ground on a complex in the Saxony development in Fishers.


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