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Part of historic Cole Motor Company building to be demolished due to structural problems

Cole Motor Company aka Marion County Jail II Building
Posted at 11:16 PM, Jan 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-10 23:16:43-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The Cole Motor Company complex helped fuel Indianapolis' automotive industry in the early 1900s, but the historic Market Street building needs to shrink before it starts its new life as housing and shops.

The eastern portion of the building failed a structural inspection last month and will be demolished, according to the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development. The previously announced renovation of the building will still happen, albeit at a slightly smaller scale.

"It's not surprising with old buildings to find elements that are not structurally sound," said Megan Vukusich of the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development. "We are going to lose some housing units with the demolition, but overall, this development is still adding housing."

The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. It most recently served as Marion County's Jail II and an attached building across Market Street served as the Marion County Inmate Processing Center.

The planned $120 million renovation of both buildings could breathe new life into the Cole-Noble Neighborhood, which is named in part after the complex.

Sun King Brewery and Easley Winery both established themselves in the district's former factory buildings long before redevelopment talks started.

"I absolutely believe the Cole-Noble neighborhood is a hidden gem," said Sun King Brewery founder Dave Colt. "When we first got here, the neighborhood was pretty industrialized. In the past fifteen years, we've seen a lot of apartment complexes getting built. It's great. Folks can say there's a district here forming that has some entertainment and libation."

The Department of Metropolitan Development has not announced a timeline for the demolition or the completion of the project, but is optimistic both will be finished in a timely fashion.

"There's a lot of potential with the historic nature and reinvesting into these historical assets of the community," Vukusich said. "Where they're located is a great opportunity to provide the gateway to the East Side."