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Campus Update: Our work on the Drake Apartment Building

By Audra Blasdel, Vice President of Operations at The Children's Museum

You may have seen or heard about our ongoing work related to the Drake Apartment building on our campus. We want to share an update with you about where we’ve been, where we are today, and our hopes for the future. 

In January, the museum filed a complaint against two local boards—the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission (IHPC) and the Metropolitan Development Commission (MDC)—seeking to cancel their decisions to declare the Drake a locally protected historic area and the historic preservation plan for the Drake.

Background

While our complaint centers around how we were denied due process related to public meeting notice and other issues, it’s important we share why we took this step. 

When we purchased the Drake Apartments in 2012 there was no historic designation in place, nor was any preservation plan requested or pursued by the museum, the IHPC, MDC or the City of Indianapolis. It wasn’t until a full seven years after our purchase of the property that the IHPC and MDC attempted to designate the property historic.  

Historic preservation status for the Drake takes away our long-term flexibility for mission-driven and community-based uses on a property we own. It’s important to us, for the long-term, that the Drake’s reuse fulfills the museum’s mission. This is consistent with our other development initiatives, such as the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience® and the green space just north of the museum that used to be the abandoned Winona Hospital. 

By way of background, at the time of purchase, we intended to operate the Drake as apartments for the foreseeable future, but the condition of the building was much worse than we anticipated.

Examining all options

To date, we have thoughtfully and carefully examined all options with the Drake. This includes: 

  • Outreach to multiple property managers, including those recommended by Indiana Landmarks in 2016, with no viable response.
  • A working group of neighbors that met from 2016–2018 to discuss options.
  • Engaging a commercial property company in 2018 to issue an RFP to hotel operators, based on the working group’s feedback. Unfortunately, we did not receive viable responses. 

Despite our repeated objections to the historic designation by the IHPC in Sept. 2019, we continue to work with the City. We collaborated with them in a good faith effort from Dec. 2019 to the present to find a developer for reuse of the Drake.

Moving forward

As we move forward, our goal is to continue conversations with the city to reach a mutually satisfying resolution for both parties that includes a viable reuse for the Drake, while also preserving our ability to use the property in the best interest of the museum for the long-term fulfillment of the museum’s mission and serving the community. 

We appreciate your interest in, and support of, our efforts to continue our work in our neighborhood and our community.