TERRE HAUTE —
Core Redevelopment, an Indianapolis-based company known for converting historic buildings into modern housing, confirmed Tuesday it is one of the bidders interested in the Deming Center, a former downtown hotel now used for low-income housing in Terre Haute.
John Watson, Core’s CEO, in response to an inquiry from the Tribune-Star, said the company is “definitely interested” in the Deming building, located at Sixth and Cherry streets.
“We are hopeful that we get the opportunity to rehabilitate the Deming Center and make it a shining star in downtown Terre Haute,” Watson said.
Last year, Core confirmed its interest in the former Statesman Towers at Indiana State University and also the former ICON/Pillsbury building on First Street near the Wabash River. While those propositions remain alive but on hold, Core is pursuing the Deming Center with hopes to perform an “upscale rehabilitation with apartments as the end use,” Watson said in a telephone interview.
“We specialize in saving great, historic buildings,” Watson said. “It’s a great building.”
The company has rehabilitated several historic structures in Indianapolis, including Bush Stadium, former home of the Indianapolis Indians, and a former furniture factory, now known as the Harding Street Lofts.
Asked whether the age of the Deming building, constructed 100 years ago, gave him reason for concern, Watson answered: “Not in the least.” Core has taken buildings in worse condition and converted them into modern apartments, he said. “That’s what we do.”
The Terre Haute Housing Authority, which manages the Deming Center, put the eight-story building up for sale late last year. It has received an unspecified number of bids and, on Monday night in a closed meeting, the Housing Authority Board of Directors instructed the authority’s director, Jeff Stewart, to seek an eventual purchase agreement with one of those bidders.
If those negotiations are productive, the Housing Authority Board could be in a position to vote on a potential purchase agreement at its meeting in February, Stewart told the Tribune-Star on Monday night. The board normally meets the last Monday of each month at 5:30 p.m. in the Housing Authority offices at 2001 N. 19th St.
Watson said it would be inappropriate for him to comment as to whether Core’s bid was the one selected by the Housing Authority Board for further action. Stewart, also reached by phone Tuesday, said it would be premature to make any comment until a sale of the Deming building to any bidder is finalized.
Deming Center is owned by a not-for-profit entity, the Low Income Housing Development Corp., meaning its sale was not subject to the same open records laws that would apply to most public entities. The Low Income Housing Development Corp. is governed by the same board of directors that governs the Terre Haute Housing Authority, a federally funded low-income housing provider.
Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett, when contacted for comment about Core’s interest in the property, said the developer is a strong company with an impressive track record of rehabilitation projects. “They would be a good fit for Terre Haute,” he said.
The Deming Center opened as the Hotel Deming in 1914. It was sold to Hulman & Co. in the early 1960s and was soon purchased by ISU for use as a dormitory and conference center. It was opened for low-income housing under the management of the Housing Authority in late 1979.
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or firstname.lastname@example.org