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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Power House

The lot that sits between Second and Third streets, blocked in by Vine and Sycamore, in Downtown Evansville has had quite the history.

While modern times have seen the lot as the home of the Greyhound Bus Terminal — which was built in 1939 and today houses the Bru Burger restaurant — the block has been no stranger to the industry and business of Downtown Evansville. The space has been home to the Vickery Brothers Grocery store (1854-1938); Parsons and Scoville Company (early 1900s); the Skora Building (home of the Evansville Gas & Electric Light Co.); the Cadick Theater (1920-1939); and the former Kenny Kent car lot, to name a few.

Now, these parcels are home to a new living community completely unique to the Evansville market — The Post House.

Construction on the two buildings began in 2018, starting with the forming of an underground garage. Over the last two years, the more than $40-million mixed-use development project has become a new eye-catching site in the Downtown landscape. The core funding component of the project was through the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative, awarded to the southwestern Indiana region in 2015, allowing for communities to work together to build strategic plans focused on quality of life in the region as a whole. Of the projects tied to the Regional Cities Initiative, The Post House has been the largest.

The Post House has been a different type of project from its inception. The lot contains two separate buildings, each with open retail space on the first floors and 144 studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartment units between them on the remaining four floors of each building. It was constructed by Scannell Properties of Indianapolis, a company that works in real estate development as well as built-to-suit and speculative development projects across the country. For the management of The Post House property, Scannell partnered with Barrett and Stokely, which manages 26 apartment communities totaling roughly 6,000 units throughout Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio.

“It was those previous relationships that we built with them that made us want to be a part of The Post House project,” says Lauren Kane, Barrett and Stokely’s regional manager of The Post House. “Barrett and Stokely had been in Evansville previously — we had a portfolio of apartment communities years ago. We were really excited to return to Evansville.”

“The Post House has so many amenities and features that I believe are the first of their kind in the Evansville market,” she adds. “Some of them, it’s the first time that I’ve seen them in an apartment community.”

“There’s absolutely nothing close to the amenities that we offer in the market, so it’s been fun showing the community around,” says Jacob Snider, the community manager at The Post House. “There’s just as much interest from people who don’t want to live here as those who do.”

Though it may sound like a clever marketing tactic, there is truth to the fact that the amenities are what make The Post House more than just another new development in Downtown Evansville. The modern architecture and design catch the eye immediately, as does the green roof of the underground garage between the two buildings. This courtyard for residents is complete with outdoor games, a dog area, and a large LED TV screen for community movie showings, events, and more. There’s a dog spa area with wash bays and a bike storage room, which offers a work bench space and tools.

▲ An open resident space just inside from the pool offers seating and a kitchenette.

Security features of the buildings include cameras through all areas and key fob access to all entries as well as the elevators. There also is a 24/7 electronic package locker, allowing packages to be delivered and kept securely until a resident can pick them up. And the underground parking garage is brightly lit at all hours.

The building along Sycamore Street is referred to as a “living laboratory” for CenterPointe Energy Company, utilizing the latest in smart energy resources, behavioral energy usage programs, and clean energy generation technologies. Hallways contain areas of lighting that are motion detecting. Select units house specific green and energy-saving technology, including Nest thermostats, gas-powered tankless water heaters, hydronic air handlers, Levitan smart light switches, GE smart appliances, and more.

“We like it here. We like the convenience, we like the security,” says Post House resident Lauren Rickelman. “We’re walking a lot more, seeing a lot more of the Downtown area, and meeting people.”

She and her husband Ken downsized from their East Side home to a fifth-floor apartment in the Sycamore building this summer. With their three children grown and living around the country, the Rickelmans thought it was time to find something with a lower maintenance than a large home. After considering purchasing a condo, Ken suggested looking at apartments. It’s been a choice neither have regretted. Their home features the energy-saving technology offered in the building and the two have kept with the modern aesthetic of the architecture with their home décor.

The two-bedroom apartment offers plenty of living space for them and their two dogs, as well as an open kitchen that allows Lauren to continue her passion for cooking. The location allows Ken — an investment advisor — to walk to his office each day as well. Living Downtown also has allowed the Rickelmans to see and experience more of the area.

“That’s the other thing that’s kind of surprising. One Sunday we walked over to Comfort by the Cross-Eyed Cricket for brunch and there were a lot of people out,” says Ken. “I didn’t realize how much was going on down here until I started living down here.”

▲ Lauren and Ken Rickelman recently moved into their Post House apartment after selling their house on the East Side. While the downsize was a big change, the Rickelmans have enjoyed The Post House’s offerings and have been taking advantage of the convenience of living Downtown.

On the opposite side, the building along Vine Street hosts many of the apartment community’s first-class, resort-style amenities touted by staff and residents. The second floor is home to a state-of-the-art gym, a game room, and a gathering place equipped with a small kitchenette. Just outside the door, an outdoor yoga area compliments a shallow pool complete with small fountains.

“We wanted a change of pace and we wanted to be near a lot of what Downtown has to offer,” says Post House resident Jenna Faulkner. She and her eight-year-old daughter Michaela Brooks were some of the first new residents to move into the community.

Moving from a home in Newburgh, Indiana, to the apartments in The Post House wasn’t the only big change for Jenna and Michaela. Beginning in August, the mother and daughter started homeschooling, making use of another well-loved and touted area of the apartment community — a first floor co-working space.

Located near the back of the Vine building, the co-working space is furnished with various tables, couches, counters, and other seating arrangements. Two private conference rooms are available for residents to use. There’s also a small kitchenette.

“This space has been huge for us as it is our first year homeschooling,” says Faulkner. “When you’re at home, that presents a new challenge with distractions. Having a workspace kind of focuses us toward a mentality of ‘This is where we do school,’ which is awesome.”

Another security measure of The Post House doesn’t lie in the key fobs or cameras, but rather in the Wi-Fi connections. All residents can “carry” their own private Wi-Fi connections throughout The Post House complex — meaning, rather than sign on to an open, unsecure network in the open co-working area or out in the courtyard, residents can continue using their secure connection throughout the property, ensuring their information is safe.

“People don’t understand how important that is,” says Snider. “Quite a bit of people utilize the co-working space, especially now with COVID. This has been a godsend for many residents. They come do their business work down here and they are still on their own secure network.”

And while The Post House showcases a sort of luxury-style living in the heart of the city, it also has opened the door for life-long residents as well as newcomers to see a new side of living in Evansville. As near-by Main Street builds a calendar of events of activities and local restaurants and retail stores move into spaces, The Post House becomes a convenient starting point to experiencing the life of Downtown.

“In the summer, we had a couple friends come over and we took some beverages and snacks down to the courtyard to play cornhole. Then we walked down to Cavanaugh’s for dinner, and then we went to the casino,” says Lauren. “And gosh, it was like we were play acting. But it’s not, it’s real now.”

For Faulkner, living in The Post House has given her and Michaela a chance to experience a sense of community with their new neighbors.

“I used to live next door to people I didn’t know their names,” she says. “Here, people talk to you in the hallways, we gather in the courtyard for movie nights. There’s a really cool social space. There’s just a good sense of community.”

▲ Michaela Brooks and Jenna Faulkner were some of the first residents to move in during June. Eight-year-old Michaela started homeschool this year and the co-working space The Post House provides has made the transition to learning at home easy for the mother and daughter. Equipped with private conference rooms, a kitchenette, and private Wi-Fi access, the space has helped many during the COVID-19 quarantine.

It’s something Snider and Kane have expressed feeling as well. Currently, The Post House has an occupancy of around 55 percent, with a projection of 60 percent by November — a number that is well above what Barrett and Stokely expected this early. But it speaks of a promising future for not just The Post House, but other projects in the center of the city.

“This community has been incredibly important for Evansville since we’re kind of in the Downtown Renaissance phase of the city,” adds Snider. “I think that kind of helped usher The Post House in. Somebody has to come on the scene and show there’s a desire and a need for something like this.”

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