The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local Business

February 12, 2013

Realtor sees potential in historic downtown apartment building

Tower Placed Apartments closed in late 2011

ANDERSON, Ind. — From the merely curious to real estate investors looking to make a buck and perhaps help revitalize downtown, approximately 30 people traipsed through the Tower Place Apartments on Monday.

The 46,406 square foot landmark building, one of the tallest in town, is scheduled to be auctioned Feb. 20 by Indianapolis-based Key Auctioneers.

Anderson resident Gary Dailey, one of the merely curious, showed up shortly after the auction company opened the doors at 11 a.m.

Dailey had never been inside and immediately headed to the top floor where, he’d heard, in days past there were penthouse apartments. Those apartments are long gone, but at least two of four 12th floor residences have small outdoor patios where you can peek out over a fence.

Although he likes the building and some of its unique architectural features, Dailey isn’t impressed with the idea of restoring Tower Place’s 46 apartments.

First, there’s no parking.

Second, there’s no shopping nearby.

“It kind of has a grand, old-time look about it, doesn’t it?” Dailey said. “I can’t imagine turning these back into apartments when there are vacant houses all over town. ... Who’d want to live here?”

Juana Clark and Steve Martin of Keller Williams Realty in Carmel have a few ideas.

College students. Young, entrepreneurial professionals. Renters who want an urban lifestyle but might also want to be relatively close to home.

“In my era, everyone couldn’t wait to get out of town,” said Clark, who was raised in Noblesville and did just that. “Now, everything’s going back to pride in home town.”

Clark and Martin were impressed with the 12th-floor views, of course, but it was the immense curved windows in the second-floor apartments that stopped Clark in mid-stride in one unit overlooking Jackson Street.

“Whoa,look at the light in here!” she exclaimed.

Clark immediately began dividing the long living room into three spaces — one for dining, another for entertaining, a third for an office just off the bedroom — all of it showcased by windows that would cost a fortune to install today.

“This would definitely be a premium unit,” she added.

Just how much the building will fetch remains an open questions, of course.

Veronica Hughes, project manager for Key Auctioneers, said investors who contacted her from Chicago thought it might go for $350,000-$400,000 in the Windy City.

This is Anderson, however, and she guessed $200,000-$250,000 is likely a more realistic price.

Hughes heard a lot of encouraging comments while leading tours through the building, but others “are overwhelmed by the amount of work it would take,” to make the structure livable again, she said.

Erected between 1929 and 1930, according to the National Register of Historic Places database, Tower Place was built in the art-deco, late-gothic revival architectural style as a hotel, but never opened as one because of The Great Depression.

It was converted in to apartments instead.

Despite some of its stately design features and solid, old-school construction, Tower Place has fared badly over the past 25 years; a decline mirrored by the diminished fortunes of Anderson itself as General Motors Corp. packed up and left town.

Anderson firefighters battled a 1987 fire on the building’s top two floors, after which it was closed for a decade.

Private and public funds were used to renovate Tower Place in the 1990s, with seniors as the primary residents. A photo album in the abandoned manager’s office shows residents attending parties and other activities.

The building was costly to maintain and operate, however. In 2005, bricks fell from the building’s south end. Several years later, residents were stranded in an elevator.

In late 2011 the owners announced plans to close the apartment building and its tenants moved on.

Find Stu Hirsch on Facebook and @StuHirsch on Twitter, or call 640-4861.

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