While rooftop owners surrounding Chicago’s Wrigley Field seek to preserve their view during the $500 million renovation of the legendary ballpark, Indianapolis residents, too, are preserving a view of their storied ballpark — Bush Stadium. Now residents of Stadium Lofts can walk out their patio door to home plate.
Built in 1931 for the minor-league Indianapolis Indians, the team used the Art Deco park until 1996, when it moved into Victory Field downtown. For a time, Tony George leased it as a dirt racetrack. From 2008 to 2011, it held cars traded in the “Cash for Clunkers” program. The building, on the National Register of Historic Places, was on Indiana Landmarks’ “10 Most Endangered List” for about a decade.
John Watson spent most of his career revamping existing buildings in Indianapolis and served as a volunteer board member of Indiana Landmarks. In August, his company, Core Development, unveiled Stadium Lofts — the redevelopment of Bush Stadium preserving the shell and historic façade while turning it into a 131-unit apartment complex. Another 132-unit apartment complex, Stadium Flats, will be built at the site and the remaining land will be developed into up to 118,000 square feet of commercial space.
Watson’s group preserved many intriguing qualities of the ballpark. The former owner’s office — with a fireplace and hardwood floors — is incorporated into one of the apartments. The diamond — once made of dirt — is made of colored concrete and surrounded by grass.
More than 100 of the units already are rented, ranging from $699 to almost $1,500 monthly.
Indianapolis’ preservation efforts take the national stage this fall (Oct. 29 to Nov.2) when the city hosts the 2013 National Preservation Conference of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Indiana Landmarks serves as a host and sponsor. Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks, is chairman of the conference.