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Ironworks project to break ground on Northside

A developer will break ground Wednesday on a mixed-use project at 86th Street and Keystone Avenue, adding more than 100 apartments to a rental market showing no signs of cooling down.

The more than $30 million development, called Ironworks, is scheduled to open in May 2014, according to Wisconsin-based developer Hendricks Commercial Properties LLC. The five-story building will have more than 36,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor and 120 units on the upper floors.

It will join a handful of new apartment projects that have broken ground or begun leasing in the past few years.

“So far, all of the projects are leasing very well,” said George Tikijian, senior managing director of Tikijian Associates, an apartment brokerage firm. “... At some point, there will be too many projects. I don’t think we’re there yet.”

Overall, Indianapolis apartments are nearly 92 percent occupied, according to data from Tikijian Associates. Tikijian said that is the highest occupancy rate he has seen in the past 10 years.

The rates are even higher for apartments in the Keystone area, he said. About 94.5 percent of the 8,800 units in the area bounded by Allisonville Road and College Avenue to the east and west and 96th and 75th streets to the north and south were occupied in 2012.

Ironworks will be within about a mile of three new apartment projects: The Residences at Keystone Crossing, which converted part of the Sheraton near the Keystone Fashion Mall into about 130 apartments; Solana Apartments at 80th Street and Keystone Avenue, which recently started to lease its 336 units; and 82 Flats, which is a 232-unit development a few blocks east of the Fashion Mall.

Ironworks should be able to attract a share of the tenants, Tikijian said.

“Ironworks is not that big ... and it’s a unique property,” he said. “It’s obviously a great location.”

The  project will sit on a strip of land on the southwest corner of 86th and Keystone. The land, which used to house a shopping center, has been  vacant for at least five years. 

Rob Gerbitz, president of Hendricks Commercial Properties LLC, said the company and its partners already have found a 10,000-square-foot anchor.  It will be a national steakhouse chain, but he said he cannot yet release the name. They also are talking to smaller retailers to fill the rest of the space, he said.

He said the shops and restaurants, along with other amenities,  will make Ironworks a desirable place to live, and he is confident that it will attract tenants.

“We’re going to have an original product for this area,” he said.

However, not everyone is happy to see more apartments in the area. Ironworks’ neighbors voiced their opposition to the city before the development was approved.  Ruth Hayes, president of the Nora–Northside Community Council Inc., said nearby homeowners are concerned that the project is “too tall, too dense (and) creates too much traffic.”

“We shall remain unhappy campers,” she said.

The groundbreaking ceremony will begin at 4 p.m. Wednesday. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is scheduled to attend.

Instant Curb Appeal for Under $100

curb appeal houseThere are dozens of small, inexpensive home improvements that you can do to your house to add instant curb appeal. Adding curb appeal to your house not only makes it easier to sell, but it also gives your house that nice and finished look in which you can take pride in. When deciding on how to add instant curb appeal to your house, make sure your consider what your house currently looks like and what will look best with it. Also, consider how much time you have to put into your home improvement project and what your budget is.

Here are a few DIY home improvement projects that all cost under $100 and will add instant curb appeal to your house.

1.)  Paint your front door, trim, or shutters.

Painting your home can definitely add some brightness and revive your house while adding curb appeal. Pick a bold color that makes your house stick out, but just make sure that you match it to the rest of the colors on your house.

2.)  Upgrade your mailbox.

It doesn't matter if you have a regular mailbox by the road or if you have a box mounted to your house for mail, adding a new and upgraded mailbox can make your home feel upgraded, which adds curb appeal to it. You can find a new mailbox for your house from anywhere from $10-$100.

3.)  Install new house numbers.

If your house has old or faded house numbers on it, purchase some new numbers to spruce up the curb appeal of your house. Look for modern house numbers that are made from stainless steel, brass or aluminum. Try to match your new house numbers with the finish that is on your exterior light fixtures to add the best curb appeal.

4.)  Plant a tree.

Planting a tree is one of the most common ways to add curb appeal to your house. It is a simple home improvement project that can really liven up your house. Before you plant a tree in your yard, make sure you consider how big the tree will get and how it will affect your house. If you have enough space, try planting two trees to frame your house or your entryway into your house.

5.)  Replace exterior light fixtures.

When buying new exterior light fixtures to add curb appeal to your house, be sure to consider both the style of the light fixtures and the function of them. You want your light fixtures to be able to adequately light up your entryway to your house and make it safer. Also, look for light fixtures that have the same mounting system as the current ones that you have to save yourself some time on this home improvement project.

6.)  Install flower boxes

If your house is lacking curb appeal and color, then try adding some flower boxes to your house. Install the flower boxes in the windows of your house or on the front porch railings. Flower boxes are relatively cheap and will only cost approximately $25.

Existing-home sales market surging 15 percent across Indiana

Nissa Ricafort and her husband figured their ranch-stlye home in northeast Indianapolis would take two to three months to sell, but the weekend it hit the market the couple had 17 showings and accepted an offer for the full $185,000 asking price.

"It was the most insane thing I've ever experienced," said Ricafort, a family law attorney.  "But a good insane.  I closed on the sale of one home, then closed on the other four days later and moved in between.  It's really worked out great."

The housing market has spiked so much in some places in the Indianapolis area that real estate agents are turning to Facebook and going door-to-door looking for prospective sellers because of a shortage of houses for sale.  Sales are up overall statewide, with Indiana reporting 68,015 homes sold from March 2012 through February 2013, a 15.2 percent increase over the same period a year earlier.  For the first two months of 2012, sales were up 20.5 percent.  Home sales have improved on a year-over-year basis for 20 consecutive months. 

"In the major markets, everything seems to be very, very busy," said Kevin Kirkpatrick, president of Indiana Association of Realtors.  "We don't have enough inventory for the number of buyers that are out there right now.  That's what's causing prices to go up.  They're not skyrocketing, but things are moving in the right direction."

The median cost of a home in Indiana is up 4.7 percent, from $112,750 to $118,000.

Toby Muhlhofer, an Indiana University assistant professor of finance who specializes in real estate, said it's not surprising the housing market in Indianapolis is leading the comeback.

"It makes sense because Indianapolis is where Indiana's economic output is centered," he said.  Other areas are also seeing improvement.

"It's still very clearly a buyer's market, but that pendulum is beginning to swing and I think consumers are noticing that," said Peter Novak Jr, CEO of Greater NW Indiana Association of Realtors.

Some buyers are having trouble even finding homes to look at.  Tonya Sanderson of Fishers said she's been looking nearly a year for a four-bedroom house with a three-car garage and a yard big enough for a pool in the school district she lives in, but there have been few houses to look at.

"We really thought by now there would be a lot of houses being listed and we'd have a lot of options, but we're not seeing that," Sanderson said. 

She said she's considering putting letters in mailboxes of homes she likes to see if people are interested in selling.

Cindy Marchant, a real estate agent since 2001 in Fishers, said home sales in the suburbs are up 48 percent from a year ago.  She said it's the best market she's seen.  She attributes the improvement to pent-up demand, low interest rates, improving consumer confidence and homeowners becoming frustrated last year at lack of sales lowering their prices. 

"It was the perfect storm, but no one was jumping because everyone was afraid because so many people were unemployed," she said.  "It was hard to go out on a limb and buy a house.  But I think now, people are ready to make a move."

*Brought to you by the IBJ, 4/9/13

8 Strategies for a Smart Landscape Design

1. Plan for equipment access

At some point in the life of your home, you will be faced with a project or repair that requires some loud, monstrous machine to get into your backyard.  Plan for it in advance, or be faced with having to tear out some of your precious plantings.

2. Start with (and maintain) the focal points

Stated simply, a focal point is something that "makes you look."  Although we typically think of using a specimen tree or statue as a focal point, there are many other possibilities.  The key is to find something different from the rest of your landscape in form, texture or color.  It could be an architectural feature of your house or even a borrowed view.

3. Leave formal landscapes to the rich and famous

A formal landscape is one of the most challenging to create, and the upkeep can be arduous.  Symmetry is very difficult to maintain.  If, for example, you have two identical evergreens at the corners of the house and one dies, it could be very difficult to find a matching replacement.  Sometimes the only choice is to replace both, which adds to the expense.

4. Keep curves in check

Incorporating curves will add interest to your garden, but don't overdo it.  A collection of amoeba-shaped beds would be overkill, as would a curvy path that takes you far out of the way of your destination.  Long, subtle curves are often best.

5. Add movement

A landscape without movement is like a painting.  Paintings are fine for hanging on a wall, but a garden needs movement to add life and interest.  No garden is complete without some ornamental grasses to sway in the breeze.  Add flowers to attract hummingbirds and butterflies, and several berry producers for the birds.

6. Accent your home

Unless your house is an architectural masterpiece, it could benefit from some thoughtful plantings to soften the edges and help it blend with the surroundings.  But take care not to end up at the other extreme, a house that is hidden by overgrown shrubbery.  Even the smallest start home usually has some interesting architectural features.  The best design will highlight that feature.

7. Take nothing for granted

When you live in a place for a while, you tend to accent existing features as obstacles, sometimes without completely noticing them.  Rather than designing around the overgrown shrubbery, established trees, or worn-out deck, consider removing them.  You may discover new possibilities, such as a sunny spot for a vegetable garden or rose bed.

8. Right plan, right spot

This phrase should be repeated constantly during each visit to the nursery.  In addition to knowing the full-grown size, consider growth rate as well.  Since they get large more quickly, fast-growing plants may seem like a bargain.  In the end, however, time and money spent on pruning and other maintenance may outweigh the initiatl savings.

Get more out of your closet space

closetFor those lucky enough to have a spacious walk-in closet, an organizing system is a no-brainer.  There's plenty of space for all manner of sweater shelves, lingerie drawers, shoe cubbies and tie racks. 

So what about the rest of us, who live with reach-in (or squeeze-in) closets?  No storage contraption can radically expand inside-the-closet capacity, but you don't necessarily have to install it there.

Here are two ways to create organized and tidy wardrobe cargo space for practically any closet-challenged house.

Thin and Restructure

Before you buy any closet gizmo, force yourself to weed out what you don't wear.  About 70-80% of what's in most closets never gets taken off the hanger.  An organizing system will make what remains easier to access. 

The standard pole-and-shelf setup leaves loads of wasted vertical space.  Try lowering the pole to four feet high, and above it, install either a second pole or numerous adjustable shelves designed to store piles of folded clothes.

Think outside the closet

Closets that are outrageously undersized require you to look beyond their walls for a solution.  If you want something that can move with you, pick up an armoire for as little as $100 at Ikea. 

Alternatively, a closet company or cabinetmaker can craft a built-in wall cabinet for your master bedroom and fill it with hanger poles, shelves, and cubbies.  You'lll pay about $2000-$4000 for an eight-foot-wide wall of doors and drawers.  Because it's so useful, attractive, and permanent, it may even yield some payback when it's time to sell- not bad for something that you'll reap dividends from at least two times a day.

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