Filling a need: Sycamore Flats to offer options for the renter by choice in the Village

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Zionsville residents Glenn Hoge and Tim Dall knew that if a mixed-use development were to come to Zionsville’s Village, the design had to be perfect.

When a nearly vacant, 4-acre site became available in the southwest quadrant of Second Street and Sycamore Street in downtown Zionsville, the pair leapt at the opportunity to acquire it.

Hoge and Dall are commercial developers who have lived in Zionsville for 20-plus years.

“We are aware of local real estate development and very aware of this particular site. We are focused on the site at this time because it’s really at Main and Main of the Village,” Hoge said. “It is the front door of the Village, so we thought it was a good opportunity for us to influence what this site could be.”

While designing the project, Hoge and Dall recognized there weren’t any apartment options in the Village for people who prefer renting to purchasing a home.

“We want to address a market gap for the renter-by-choice that doesn’t exist,” Dall said.

Hoge and Dall began working through various engineering challenges at the site nearly two years ago. Last summer, they hired J.C. Hart Co. to develop the project and then filed it with the Zionsville Plan Commission in February.

There will be outdoor gathering areas for residents at the proposed Sycamore Flats development in downtown Zionsville. (Submitted renderings)

PROJECT DETAILS

The project, called Sycamore Flats, calls for 184, one- and two-bedroom apartments, with a 5,000-square-foot retail opportunity.

“That retail could be a variety of different uses, a restaurant or a coffee shop. It’s a little too early to identify a user, but it’s ideal for someone that opened a dining establishment with outdoor dining because we are creating an outdoor seating area as part of the design,” said John C. Hart Jr., president of J.C. Hart Co.

A third-party consultant worked with J.C. Hart Co. and estimated the annual household income for future Sycamore Flats residents at $77,000.

“That’s bringing $14 million of household income to the downtown area,” Hart said.

The average apartment size is proposed at just less than 1,000 square feet, with an average rent of $1,500. Amenities include a courtyard, swimming pool, an outdoor grilling and gathering area, a state-of-the-art workout center and more.

Another draw to the development is a parking structure for residents and 90 public parking spaces along the north, east and south perimeters of the project.

“The parking is what’s really unique about this property. We have a stand-alone parking structure and the building wraps around almost the entire parking structure, so you don’t even know it’s wrapped inside the building,” Hart said. “That will serve our apartment residents, and then we have created approximately 90 street-surface parking spaces there to serve the retail and for public parking.”

RETAINING THE VILLAGE’S CHARM

When designing the project, Hoge and Dall recognized the Village has a certain charm that they want to incorporate into the project.

“The Village has sort of a character. Charm is one of the terms brought up, and I think there are residents that are concerned that our development will dilute somehow the current charm of the Village,” Dall said.

To retain the charm, Sycamore Flats will feature a change in the building facade to mirror separate facades already in the Village.

“We will break up the facade to get away from a monolithic structure to create that same quant feel to our façade,” Tim said.

As the project moves through the Zionsville Plan Commission, Hoge and Dall expect to hear a lot of suggestions from the public.

“There’s a lot of energy and a lot of input, and a lot of residents are very interested in what’s going on here,” Hoge said.

When Zionsville resident Debb Beck first heard of the project, she was skeptical.

“I’m obsessed with the Village and I would shop and work there exclusively if I could.  We looked on and off for about 25 years for a house within walking distance to the Village, and we finally found the right one about two years ago. So, I would vigorously oppose anything that would be a threat to the character and health of the Village,” Beck said. “On the other hand, I’ve worried about the economic vitality of the Village.  Recently, I considered investing in some retail and office space in the Village but I was worried that there would not be enough business to make the project viable. I’ve noticed that some of our restaurants and shops are too quiet, and I’ve worried about recent business closings in the Village. I attended a meeting for Zionsville business leaders about the Sycamore Flats project, and I became enthusiastic about the project.”

Some of the reasons Beck is no longer skeptical about the project include her belief that the design is sensitive to the Village’s architecture, the parking garage being nearly invisible from the outside and nearly 100 additional parking spots for Village use and the project allows space for another restaurant to open.    

Engineering challenges

When Glenn Hoge and Tim Dall began working on plans for the 4-acre site at the southwest quadrant of Sycamore and Second streets nearly two years ago, they encountered engineering challenges that were addressed prior to bringing the proposal to the Zionsville Plan Commission.

The site is in a flood way and flood plain with nearby wetlands.

“It has some access challenges, but it is such an asset to the town, in such a location, and it’s not representative of what we, as residents and other folks in the community, would like to see on the site,” Hoge said. “It’s probably vacant because of all of the challenges.”

Regulations required Hoge and Dall to place fill material in the flood plain and then create compensatory storage for flood waters elsewhere in the flood plain.

“We have a plan where we excavate fill material from a couple properties downstream from us, bring it up to our site within the development, and the topsoil from our site will be (sent to) Canterbury Manor to restore the pastures,” Dall said.

When the engineering challenges were solved, Hoge and Dall then approached the Zionsville Plan Commission.

“Tim and I made the decision early on not to bring a land-use approval to the town, to the residents, unless we were able to solve the engineering issues around the site,” Hoge said.

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