IBJ: Building across from future Eleven Park site expected to house new restaurant

Mickey Shuey

A local entrepreneur plans to open a new restaurant across from the proposed Eleven Park stadium district project on the southwest side of downtown Indianapolis.

John Mahrdt is in the early stages of launching the unnamed venture, which would occupy the 5,400-square-foot building at 535 Kentucky Ave., directly south of the proposed Indy Eleven and Keystone Group redevelopment project at the former Diamond Chain Manufacturing Co. site.

The building at 535 Kentucky Ave. is set to become a restaurant. (IBJ photo/Mickey Shuey)

The restaurant is expected to feature pizzas from recipes Mahrdt learned while studying culinary arts in Italy, according to Stephen Alexander, whose firm Prince Alexander Architects is involved in the project,.

Mahrdt “went to Italy to study how to make the perfect Italian pizzas and he came back with the secret recipe,” Alexander said. The pizza shop will start out by offering takeout, delivery and catering services before transitioning to a full-service restaurant after “he perfects his product.”

The building is just north of event center Industry and across Kentucky Avenue from the Indy Telcom Center, which was owned by the Mahrdt family before it was acquired by Netrality Data Centers in December.

According to a filing with the city of Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development, Mahrdt’s project is expected to separate the building into three equal parts, including the restaurant space in the northern most section, as well as office space and a storage area in the other portions.

As part of the project, Mahrdt is seeking city approval to rezone the 0.93-acre parcel from its existing industrial designation to that of CBD-2, which allows for office, retail, restaurant and event space uses. The request received a recommendation of approval from the Metropolitan Development Hearing Examiner on March 23, one of the first hurdles to move the request forward.

It is expected to be considered by the Metropolitan Development Commission on April 19, where an approval would send it to the City-County Council for consideration during the group’s May 8 meeting.

Mahrdt did not return a phone call requesting comment on the project. His attorney, Elizabeth Bentz Williams of Clark Quinn Moses Scott & Grahn LLP, said it was too early to discuss specific plans for the project.

“They’re still working on things, so I don’t know exactly what will be happening” with the building, she said. “There’s a lot of other exciting things going on down there, and I think they certainly want to be part of that. But that’s about all I can tell you.”

The Eleven Park project, which IBJ first reported last June was planned for the Diamond Chain site, is among the changes occurring in the neighborhood, along with the redevelopment of the former General Motors stamping plant site on the western bank of the White River.

In a statement, a Keystone official said the company sees the proposed restaurant use of the 535 Kentucky Ave. building as a good step for the future of the neighborhood the developer is hoping to create.

”We couldn’t be more excited to learn about additional developments around Eleven Park,” said Jennifer Pavlik, chief of staff for Keystone. “This is exactly what we have envisioned as far as a transformational neighborhood development. This area has been left undeveloped for years, and Eleven Park will undoubtably ignite other businesses, developers, and entrepreneurs to make this entire quadrant of Indianapolis a place where people want to live, work, play and grow their businesses.”

The Eleven Park soccer stadium would be located on the western edge of the former Diamond Chain site, along the White River. (Rendering courtesy of Keystone Group)

In February, Keystone Group said it would begin working with city officials to rezone the property to allow for mixed-use development—a process that has now begun, with an identical approval tract to that of the restaurant property.

 In addition to a 20,000-seat stadium, the campus calls for three apartment buildings, each about 15 to 20 stories tall, totaling 600 units. Each building would have six floors of parking garages at the bottom with apartments above.

The middle of the site would feature a public plaza with an outdoor stage and play areas for families, along with a row of stand-alone restaurants abutting the plaza and multiple outdoor television screens affixed to surrounding buildings.

A 4,000-seat, flexible-use indoor entertainment venue is also planned for the site, along with two more structures: A 205,000-square-foot office building and a luxury hotel are set to round out the south end of the campus.

Once Keystone receives rezoning approval, it plans to begin preparing the Diamond Chain building for demolition, with hopes of breaking ground on the stadium and other elements of the project before the end of the year.