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Developers, IU Health celebrate new affordable housing development

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana University Health officials and the developer who consulted with them on Tuesday said they hope a new affordable housing development becomes a model of urban planning.

After two years of construction, officials cut the ribbon on Wesley Place, a mixed-use development just a few hundred yards from the IU Health campus, centered around IU Health Methodist Hospital. The development is part of IU Health’s larger strategy for the IU Health District.

Arrow Street Development founder and CEO Rodney Byrnes said he began talking to IU Health about the community’s needs and wants soon after he began work on the building. He says he intentionally built it within walking distance of the hospital and around the corner from an IndyGo Red Line stop.

“I think it’s equivalent to four full SalesForce Towers, the number of employees here, and there’s not a lot of amenities,” he said. “We thought there was a huge opportunity.”

The building has 244 apartments available for rent. Of those, Byrnes says 25 will be set aside for people making 50 to 80 percent of the area median income. That works out to roughly $30,000-$60,000 per year. Byrnes said those apartments will be identical to all of the others in the building.

Rusty Carr, the director of the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development, says Wesley Place is exactly the sort of development the city is looking for closer to downtown.

He says Byrnes did a good job of bringing together access to public transit and proximity to a key employer and services. Carr also says city officials want a mix of affordable and market-rate housing as well as first-floor retail space.

Carr says Wesley Place received a 10-year tax abatement from the city to help incentivize it. The abatement phases out over time, so the city will gradually make more revenue from it.

The building is located in the Meridian Tax Increment Financing District, so Carr says tax revenue from the building will be specifically dedicated to projects in and around it.

Additionally, he says Wesley Place will contribute to the Indianapolis Housing Trust Fund, which provides grants to encourage the development of affordable housing.

Jamal Smith, IU Health’s Director of Government Affairs, says IU Health provided input for the project based on conversations with the people who live near the IU Health campus.

For example, he says the retail space will put needed services within walking distance, even for people who don’t live at Wesley Place itself. He adds he hopes the project gives people the ability to live, work and play around the Health District at a price they can afford.

“Our job as an anchor is to influence where we can and support what the data and the community tells us needs to happen,” he said.

Smith says at least two more developments similar to Wesley Place are under construction in other parts of the Health District.