Developers tour vacant fire station, come up with ideas for its future

With the battle to save a neighborhood fire station long over on Indy's north side, the mission has shifted to figuring out what the future holds for the building. (WISH)
With the battle to save a neighborhood fire station long over on Indy's north side, the mission has shifted to figuring out what the future holds for the building. (WISH)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – With the battle to save a neighborhood fire station long over on Indy’s north side, the mission has shifted to figuring out what the future holds for the building.

Change isn’t always easy but it can also be exciting. And that’s how architects like Jeremy Welu view the unique opportunity of moving the historic IFD Station 16 into the future.

“There’s parts of the newness that can marry to the old that would really be progressive,” he said. “And I say progressive in a way that would be I think respectful. I think it’d be interesting the solutions that people come up with.”

Developers from across the city toured the 84-year-old building, getting a feel for what makes it unique, what might be in need of repair, and how its potential new purpose could fit in with the neighborhood.

“We’re really curious about the community input,” said Welu as he walked past the lockers fire fighters previously used.

Outside the fire station, longtime Butler Tarkington resident Anthony Gregory was walking by with his wife. We stopped him to ask what he’d like to see fill out the old building.

“On this corner, the possibilities are limitless. I would think if I was looking at it as an investor i’d be looking at another restaurant,” he said.

One notable concern for that idea already stands out to Welu.

“For us, the big part is we’d be looking at access to parking around it,” Welu said.

He also knows that there are several shops and restaurants nearby at 56th  & Illinois Streets, homeowners live right next door.

“The consideration of the neighborhood’s comments and concerns will have to be addressed regardless of the type of use that is proposed,” said Jon Hunsberger, senior project manager for Metropolitan Development. “Certainly the fire station closing has been, has impacted the neighborhood and they do a feel a sense of loss and we want to respect that and the input of the neighborhood in this process is critical.”

Hunsberger added at the Meridian Street Foundation, a historic district in which the property stands, would have to approve changes to the building. It would also have to be rezoned if it turns commercial. But all that isn’t enough to keep architects like Welu from dreaming up a future for Station 16.

“The exciting part of us is always envisioning what could be,” he said.

Hunsberger said they don’t want to rush to process of accepting a proposal, however he estimated a project could get picked by summer 2017.