Old City Hall to get a very tall and stylish neighbor

This report enhances the Aug. 29 news item posted on this website.

TWG Development principal Tony Knoble is calling the pending development “the most impactful project we’ve ever done.”

Mayor Joe Hogsett said it’s a “transformative plan” which will change the Downtown skyline.

These words came on Aug. 29 on the steps of the Old City Hall. The occasion was the announcement that the parking lot immediately north of the historic landmark would soon be home to a 32-story tower housing a 21c Museum Hotel as well as apartment units.

The hotel – renowned for its commitment to displaying top-notch contemporary art – would feature 150 hotel rooms, while the skyscraper would also house 190 rental apartments and 24 condominiums.

Old City Hall would house 21c’s art gallery, as well as other community or office space. The project would also include 8,000 square feet of retail and hospitality space, and about 300 parking spaces.

City officials were obviously comfortable enough to announce that they had chosen the $140 million partnership between TWG Development and 21c Museum Hotel despite the fact that 21c had not yet signed on the dotted line. The entities are in “exclusive negotiations” to finalize the deal.

The new project isn’t 21c’s first crack at the key Downtown site. Six years ago, a project to bring the unique hotel to the Old City Hall site failed due to lack of funding. Since then, however, the Louisville-based hotel company has been purchased by Ennismore, a global firm, and is very well-capitalized.

With eight other U.S. hotels, 21c Museum Hotel describes its artistic element as “North America’s first museum dedicated solely to collecting and exhibiting the art of the 21st century and open free of charge 24 hours daily.”

The Old City Hall project is the third city-owned property now in a redevelopment phase. A block south of Old City Hall, Gershman Partners is planning to replace the non-historic East Wing of the City Market with an apartment tower, while also repurposing the “Gold Building” from office space to residential.

The third project – a 40-story structure housing a Signia by Hilton Hotel – is planned for the Pan Am Plaza across from the Indiana Convention center.

The Aug. 29 announcement ends, at least for now, speculation of what was to become of the Old City Hall, which from 1910 to 1962 housed the city’s governmental offices. From 1967 to 2002, it housed the Indiana State Museum and then later served as the interim Central Library while that facility was being expanded on the north end of the American Legion Mall.

Tony Knoble said the latest incarnation of the property would serve as a key connector between Downtown and Mass Ave. And although TWG Development already has a strong footprint Downtown, including Pulliam Square and The Whit apartments, Knoble is clearly excited about the Old City Hall project. “We have one shot to build this right,” he said.

RENDERING ABOVE: The proposed 32-story tower would sit on the city-owned surface parking lot at the southwest corner of Alabama and New York streets.