By Howard Greninger | Tribune-Star
Minor finishing touches are all that remain to be completed on the new Miller Parrot Lofts on Wabash Avenue.
The building, at 1450 Wabash Ave., once housed the Light House Mission, but is named after the building’s origin as a bakery.
The lofts are now home to tenants including Pam D. Lutz, who was among the first to move into the renovated building. Lutz moved into a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment on Dec. 9.
“I love it. I have nine huge windows in my apartment and love the light. It is amazing,” Lutz, 56, said, who had lived near Brazil.
“It kind of has an industrial feel, which I love. It has a fitness center, a community room and a craft room,” she said.
The 105-year-old building now houses 54 apartments – one studio, 38 one-bedroom and 15 two-bedroom apartments. Washers and dryers are in each apartment. Fourteen of the 54 units have been leased as of Wednesday.
The rehabilitation of the building into apartments was made possible through the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. Because of that, the apartments are for lower income housing. To be eligible, a person must be 55 years or older and make less than $27,000 a year.
Two large cooking ovens reveal the history of the building, erected in 1915 for the Miller-Parrott Baking Company, across from Gilbert Park, at 1450 Wabash Avenue, which produced crackers, cakes and cookies on one production line and bread on a second line.
“We left the ovens in there that made the saltine crackers. It rotates from the fourth floor down to the first floor. So they put the dough on the first floor and pulled the saltine crackers out of the fourth floor and would then take them down an elevator,” said Jeff Hammersley, project manager for Flaherty & Collins Properties, an Indianapolis development, construction and management firm.
“There are two ovens in there and they reinforced the concrete in these areas and had anticipated putting in a third oven,” he said.
Additionally, steel beams in the building also have an Indiana history.
“The steel came from Hetherington & Berner iron works in Indianapolis,” Hammersley said. That company fabricated a system of cast iron and wrought iron columns and trusses that support the interior of the Indianapolis City Market, Hammersley said.
The project involved a lot of clean up and new windows were installed throughout the building, Hammersley said. Windows on the fourth floor were covered.
“The top floor used to have a gymnasium in it. And when they would shut the gym down at Indiana State University back in the 1970s, Larry Bird would come over and play basketball on the fourth floor of this place,” Hammersley said when the building was used as a YMCA.
The gym flooring is there, but not the basketball goal. No work was done the fourth floor that contained the gym and a penthouse/office area, Hammersley said.
“We only did work on the first three floors and did nothing to the basement,” but the basement required over $100,000 to clean out, he said.
The construction budget was $8.9 million and the project went just $7,500 over budget, Hammersley said. The total investment is $11.7 million. Most of the overage was on masonry repair.
“In an old building, there are so many unforeseen conditions. It is hard to budget for that, but we did a good job on that and we did a lot of value engineering,” Hammersley said.
“The transformation is phenomenal,” Hammersley said. “We left the concrete ceiling and we left some of the elevator doors and we left the hard rock maple floors, which were the industrial floors. So we sanded those and put three coats of polyurethane on them,” Hammersley said. “It really gives it a cool vibe.”
Sisters of Providence purchased the former Light House Mission building in October 2019 for $570,000, county records show. The building is owned by the Sisters of Providence who formed the Miller Parrott Lofts Limited Partnership. That partnership is with Flaherty & Collins, which will manage the building for 15 years.
The building, erected in 1915, served as a bakery until 1957 and went through a string of owners until the Light House Mission acquired it in 1991, before leaving the building in 2016. Then in September, 2016, an arson fire damaged an addition to the building.
For leasing information, contact Miller Parrot Lofts at 812-999-2175 or visit the web site at www.millerparrott.com.