Four-story structure envisioned for Mass Ave

The mixed-use building would sit at the corner of Mass Ave and Walnut Street, on a site now occupied by the former home of Dean Johnson Design.

A proposal to build a four-story mixed-use building at 646 Massachusetts Avenue got its first airing before the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission on April 4. Reviews were mixed.

The plan by Stenz Construction, doing business as 646 Mass Ave LLC, involves demolition of the non-historic former home of Dean Johnson Design at the corner of Mass Ave and Walnut Street. The 1996 building was in the news last year when a plan to relocate the Kurt Vonnegut Library and Museum there was scuttled by significant construction issues within the structure.

The developers brought the plans to the IHPC on April 4 fully expecting the petition to be continued to the May 2 hearing.

The proposed four-story structure would cover the site of the existing building, as well as the grass-covered lot to the immediate south. It would house commercial space on the first floor and condominiums on floors two through four.

Concerns over the plans – voiced both by neighbors and by several commissioners – involved parking as well as how the building relates to the Chatham Arch neighborhood.

The parking concerns centered around the fact that developers are allowed by city regulations to count a certain amount of nearby street parking to meet their quota. Concerns about the design focused largely on how the building lacks a Walnut Street façade, as well as the heavily used brick alley at the rear of the property.

There were other concerns about the design of the building, with one commissioner calling the contemporary look “jarring,” while another said it looked like a motel.

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