News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Business

December 5, 2013

Indy developer interested in vacant ISU towers

Implosion on hold as developer of Bush Stadium lofts submits proposal for repurposing former residence halls

TERRE HAUTE — The walls of Indiana State University’s Statesman Towers won’t be tumbling down anytime soon, despite a planned demolition that is now on hold.

Both a university official and a developer confirmed independently to the Tribune-Star on Wednesday that Core Redevelopment of Indianapolis is exploring a possible adaptive re-use of the now vacant towers. The firm is receiving a lot of positive attention for its renovation of historic Bush Stadium in Indianapolis into the Stadium Lofts apartment complex.

Initially, ISU had announced its intent to implode the Statesman Towers over winter break at a cost of about $4 million.

Built as residence halls, the 15-story structures later housed the colleges of Business and Education — which since have moved to Federal Hall and University Hall, respectively.

 But in recent weeks, the university has decided to postpone implosion of the towers to review “whether there may be another potential adaptive re-use of the facility,”  Diann McKee, ISU vice president for business affairs, told the Tribune-Star.

Core Redevelopment “has given us a proposal, which we’re evaluating,” McKee said. “It’s very exploratory.”

When asked if it was to develop housing, she did not want to comment on specifics, but did say, “Obviously, it would be the most suitable [use], since that is what they were originally built for.”

John Watson, Core Redevelopment managing member, confirmed Wednesday, “We have submitted a proposal to the university for them to consider.”

He said it would be inappropriate to comment further while the university considers that proposal.

“We’re very excited about the Terre Haute market and creating some housing in Terre Haute,” Watson said. “I don’t know what it will be or what will happen, but we are working on finding a project in Terre Haute.”

In the Bush Stadium project, 138 lofts were filled by the time the complex opened in July. Core Redevelopment plans to open another 144 flats in August as part of a second phase, according to media reports.

While Core has shown interest in the towers, “absolutely no decisions have been made,” McKee said.

If a third party would want to redevelop the property, “it would not be anything that would be operated or managed by the university,” McKee said.

The state invested resources into renovating University Hall and Federal Hall with the understanding that the towers’ square footage “would come off our books,” McKee said. ISU is still evaluating whether that will occur through demolition or another arrangement.

Any transfer of the property to a third party would require board of trustee and state approvals, she said. There could be multiple ways to structure an arrangement, she said.

The university is allowing four to six months to determine the next step, McKee said, whether demolition or adaptive re-use by another party.

Core Redevelopment is the only party, at this point, to express an interest in the towers.

Together, the towers have 320,000 square feet of space. They are located between Eighth and Ninth streets on the northeast part of campus.

Core also has shown interest in the former ICON/Pillsbury building on riverfront property now owned by ISU. “We’re exploring if there would be any potential re-use that could include housing,” McKee said of that structure.

Core Redevelopment LLC, started in 2009, is a full-service real estate development firm specializing in urban, affordable, market-rate properties, according to its website, which states: “We take pride in bringing unique properties in unique locations to life.”

Watson is a former board chairman of Indiana Landmarks. Bush Stadium had been on the organization’s “10 most endangered” historic properties list; Historic Landmarks says it “cultivated” Watson’s interest in redeveloping the baseball landmark, which was vacant for many years.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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