In Indianapolis, the minor league baseball team known as the Indians hasn’t played at the old Bush Stadium, on the city’s near-west side, since a new stadium opened downtown in 1996. The old 1931 art deco ballpark has been left to languish.
Underscoring that abandonment has been the aging field’s recent use as a storage depot for thousands of outdated cars left over from the federal Cash for Clunkers program.
But now Bush Stadium is getting back in the game: A creative adaptive reuse project will fill its grandstand not with fans but with loft apartments.
Core Redevelopment hired Indianapolis-based Heartland Design to design the $22 million Stadium Lofts project, which broke ground a year ago this month. “We preserved quite a bit of the stadium,” said James Cordell, principal at Heartland, noting his belief that the project is the first conversion of a stadium to housing. “It’s just a very unusual thing to do.”
Bush Stadium’s stone art deco entrance and flanking brick walls have been incorporated into the new building, and the stadium’s steel canopy forms the roof. The existing structure has been shored up and windows added to the brick walls. To create space for a wood-frame structure housing 134 residences on three stories, the team removed the stadium’s staggered concrete seating platforms and support girders.
Bush Stadium’s unique shape, it turns out, makes for varied apartment layouts. “There are some very bizarre units in this building that we expect will appeal to young professionals and students,” said Cordell. A new glass-and-metal panel wall opens on to the former baseball diamond, with balconies overlooking the infield. Third-floor units will feature tall ceilings with exposed, original steel girders.
Courtesy Core Development
The design preserves the stadium’s quirky features and iconic elements, including its old scoreboard, press box, and lighting towers. Ticket booths and offices are being converted into common areas. The baseball diamond, remade in earth-tone concrete and grass, remains as a green space for residents. Indianapolis nonprofit People for Urban Progress is also working to reuse many of the stadium’s 13,000 seats as street furniture around the city.
Stadium Lofts sits at the edge of the 170-acre 16 Tech district, a formerly industrial area now housing many of Indianapolis’ technology and life sciences companies. Develop Indy, the city’s economic development organization overseeing the district, is working to make the area into a sustainably-minded corridor within walking distance of the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus, with new parks and an updated streetscape along Indiana Avenue.
Future phases call for another 132 apartments and 118,000 square feet of commercial space to be built in the stadium’s old parking lot, beginning later this year. Stadium Lofts will open to residents this August.