Onyx+East, storage company plan new development in Lockerbie

Mickey Shuey • mshuey@ibj.com

A local developer plans to raze a 95-year-old building in the Lockerbie Square neighborhood to make way for a new residential development and separate, six-floor storage facility.

Onyx+East has partnered with Salt Lake City-based Extra Space Storage Inc. to redevelop the block at the southeast corner of North and Fulton streets, immediately west of Davidson Street, according to documents filed with the city.

The Indianapolis-based development company plans to spend about $13 million to construct 24 residential flats and 15 townhouses on part of the property, while Extra Space Storage plans to demolish its existing facility and replace it with a new, 115,000-square-foot building on the eastern portion of the 1.55-acre site.

A preliminary hearing for the project is expected during the Jan. 8 meeting of the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission, at which time board members will share their thoughts on the development with the developers’ representatives.

The hearing will give the developers an opportunity to make changes to the design and scope of the project before they seek formal approval from the IHPC.

The hearing is required because the project is in a historic neighborhood and requires the demolition of an Extra Space Storage’s existing 71,000-square-foot building at 501 Fulton St. The building, constructed as an industrial property in 1924, has about 350 storage units.

“We really look at this property as under-utilized,” said Mackay Reid, senior director of asset management for Extra Space Storage. “The building itself is highly inefficient … so our hope is the (IHPC) recognizes that it’s not a very exciting or attractive building — even with some elements they might like about it — and we’re hopeful that we can kind of come to an agreement where we can … find a better purpose for this site.”

The proposed 85-foot-high storage facility would be oriented north-to-south along the west side of Davidson Street with six floors, and up to 900 storage units at an average size of about 100 square feet each, Reid said. The facility will employ four people, compared with the current two workers.

Reid declined to say how much Extra Space would invest in the project because those figures have not been finalized.

A preliminary site plan for the project shows about 50 storage units on the first level of the building — ranging from 5 feet by 10 feet each to 10 feet by 30 feet — with an alley down the middle of the structure for loading and unloading. The plans include two sets of elevator bays. Specifications for the upper levels of the building have not yet been provided to the IHPC’s administrative staff.

Reid said the mix of units will cater to both downtown residents and commercial users. The project is likely to create somewhat of a headache for current tenants, who will have to relocate their items. Reid said Extra Space plans to offer customers space at some of its 15 other Indianapolis facilities.

Extra Space began working with local firm Milhaus Development Inc. about a year ago on redeveloping the property, but Milhaus later recommended its own spinoff firm, Onyx+East, because the storage company was interested in adding for-sale units to the development, rather than rent-based units, said Reid.

“Together, we’re going to build a Class A property that we think is going to do really well in this downtown submarket,” he said.

Onyx+East’s portion of the Fulton Street redevelopment calls for a four-story building on the north portion of the site with 24 residential units, along with a separate attached townhome development on the western side of the property.

The upper three floors of the 51-foot residential building would each have eight flats ranging from 940 to 1,485 square feet. The first level of the building would feature a lobby, utility rooms, bike storage and a 24-space parking garage — one space for each unit.

The 15 three-story townhouses would have between 2,100 and 2,300 square feet of livable space, along with two-car garages and rooftop terraces between 340 and 375 square feet.

The townhouses would also have mechanical rooms on the roof, making the maximum height of the structure about 44 feet.

Brandon Bart, a development associate at Onyx+East, said having the Extra Space Storage building closer to the interstate (I-65/70 is a few hundred feet from the property) will shield the townhouses from much of the noise associated with traffic.

“We think that building will kind of serve as a buffer between the residential units and the interstate, both for sound and for the (aesthetic) of the development,” he said. “We’re working really well together to create something everyone wants with a cohesive design that fits the context of the area. We’re not doing our thing and they’re doing their thing — we’re looking at it as a single, collaborative project.”

Prices for the flats and for the townhouses have not yet been finalized, though Bart indicated they would all be market rate or higher. Flats in the Lockerbie area have recently sold for $250,000 or higher, while townhouses often fetch at least $400,000.

Neither Onyx+East nor Extra Space Storage plan to seek incentives, such as tax-increment financing bonds, for the development, Bart and Reid said separately.

The developers also said they plan to pay for infrastructure improvements, which include the addition of an alley linking to Michigan Street and rights-of-way from Fulton and Davidson streets. Reid said Extra Space will be responsible for maintaining the roadways.

The companies hope to clear city hurdles by next year’s third quarter, with plans to begin demolition and construction immediately after. The new storage facility could be operational by mid-2021, he said.

Bart said the buildout time for the flats and the townhouses will likely last until mid-2022.

Indianapolis-based Rottman Collier Architects Inc. is the designer of the project.

Originally published in Indianapolis Business Journal.