East Crossroads Proposal Grows to Include 350 Residences, Large Commercial Building

Milhaus is currently developing the Gallerie mixed-use project south of Crown Center. (Rendering from Milhaus).

By Kevin Collison

More details of a planned big East Crossroads development were disclosed Thursday at a development agency meeting during which the current property owner, Hallmark, was scolded for its stewardship.

The proposed project on a two-block site now used mostly for parking is expected to include 350 apartments and possibly townhomes; 15,000 square feet of retail; an up to 40,000 square-foot commercial building, and a garage with up to 350 spaces, said Brad Vogelsmeier, development director for Milhaus.

Indianapolis-based Milhaus has an option to purchase the 6.25-acre property bound by Oak and Cherry from 19th to 20th streets. Most of it is currently owned by two Hallmark subsidiaries Crown Center Redevelopment and Kissel Properties.

The preliminary Milhaus plan calls for the residential structures to be four- to six-stories tall, and the garage, which would be adjacent to the Oak Street viaduct, to be five stories.

The only existing building on the site, a 5,000 square foot commercial structure built in 1948, also is likely to be renovated as part of the project. The proposed, new stand-alone commercial building would go up on the southwest corner of 19th and Locust.

Vogelsmeier was presenting the preliminary development plan to the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority.

The PIEA will ultimately be asked for property tax abatements to assist its financing, and as part of the process, was asked to declare the property blighted.

Several board members of the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority criticized Hallmark for how it has maintained the development site.

Board members approved the blight designation, but not before several criticized Hallmark, which has owned the land since the 1980s, for allowing it to decline.

“Hallmark could have easily fixed this,” said board member Jay Wilson. “I’m not opposed to this project, but it sets a dangerous precedent for allowing property to deteriorate and then letting someone else handle the problem.”

In an email response, Stacey Paine, president of Crown Center Redevelopment said the parcels being sold were “maintained and used in a manner that was comparable to the adjacent properties for many years, several of them parking lots for nearby businesses.

“We held the land until it was the right time for a development opportunity that we believe will be a catalyst for the surrounding area.”

Vogelsmeier said the proposed mixed-use project, the largest development to date in the East Crossroads, will attract additional investment in the area. In recent years, the East Crossroads has become home to dozens of new microbreweries, restaurants and coffee shops.

He said the apartments should appeal to people who work downtown and at the nearby Hospital Hill healthcare facilities.

“We expect a wide array of people, not just young professionals,” Vogelsmeier said. “We’re close to employment centers and also potentially families would like a project like this.”

The apartments are expected to charge market-rate rent, but Milhaus is willing to consider some affordable units as well, he said.

Milhaus is currently building the $68 million Gallerie residential project on former Crown Center property at 27th and McGee. That 400-unit apartment and townhome development is expected to begin accepting residents this fall.

The two-block East Crossroads property where Milhaus is proposing its mixed-use project is now used mostly for surfacing parking. (Map by Block Real Estate Services)

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