News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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February 24, 2014

Deming Center getting new owner

TERRE HAUTE — The future of Terre Haute’s last remaining historic downtown hotel has become much clearer.

On Monday night, the Terre Haute Housing Authority board of directors agreed to sell the Deming Center to Core Redevelopment, an Indianapolis firm, for $800,000.

“We are excited about the opportunity to come over and give the Deming Center its next life,” said John Watson, CEO of Core, who spoke at the Housing Authority’s board meeting. Renovations, estimated at $5.3 million, will begin as soon as the building is vacated, he said.

Core expects the building, which is at Sixth and Cherry streets, to primarily serve as apartment housing for Indiana State University students, Watson said, adding he hopes it will be ready for occupancy by the fall of 2015.

As required by city code, the ground floor will contain commercial businesses.

“We want to have life in the building,” Watson said.

The board approved the sale without opposition in its monthly meeting at the Housing Authority offices on North 19th Street. Asked by the board about parking, Watson said most of the company’s other student housing properties average fewer than one vehicle per unit. Students who have cars will likely use on-campus parking, he said.

Core Redevelopment, established in 2009, has transformed several historic structures in Indianapolis, including Bush Stadium (former home of the Indianapolis Indians), into modern residential units. The Deming building is “quite a fine old girl and we’ll turn it around,” Watson told the board.

“We’re excited that the Deming Center is going to have new life,” said Mayor Duke Bennett, reached later Monday evening. Many people had worried the building would be torn down and “that’s not going to happen,” he said.

The sale to Core will bring another building onto the city’s property tax rolls and result in more people living downtown, Bennett said. “It’s kind of a win across the board for all involved,” he said.

The Deming building, which is officially owned by a not-for-profit arm of the Housing Authority, contains 109 residential units. Most of its tenants are expected to move around the end of this year into Warren Village, a new, 109-unit Housing Authority-managed property at 1300 N. 25th St.

Construction at Warren Village could be completed by the end of September, said Jeff Stewart, executive director of the Housing Authority. However, meeting requirements from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees and funds the Housing Authority, could delay occupancy of Warren Village – and, therefore, the vacating of the Deming Center – by two or three additional months, he added.

The Housing Authority’s goal in selling the Deming Center was three-fold, Stewart told the board. First, it wanted a fair price for the building.

Second, it wanted a purchaser that could be ready to begin work on the Deming Center immediately upon closing the dea.

Third, the authority wanted to find a “responsible” buyer able to make the building a showplace for the downtown.

The sale to Core Redevelopment achieves all three of those goals,

Stewart said.

For its first several decades, the building operated as the Hotel Deming, a swanky establishment with its own barber shop, several food shops, a cigar store, a ballroom, a fine dining restaurant and more.

It has been used for low-income housing for approximately 30 years.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

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