Purdue takes next step to develop $187M mixed-use project for new downtown Indy campus

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(IBJ photo)

Plans are coming together for the first building on Purdue University’s new downtown campus in Indianapolis: a $187 million mixed-use project offering classrooms, lab space, housing, a dining hall and street-level retail offerings.

The 248,000-square-foot project, to be known as the Academic Success Building, is expected to include dorm space for as many as 500 students. Construction is set to begin in February and conclude by May 2027.

While specific site plans have not been finalized, the building is expected to occupy at least a portion the Lot 73 parking area on the current IUPUI campus at the northwest corner of West Michigan Street and West Street. It’s generally bounded by North California Street to the west, West Michigan Street to the south, West Street to the East and the Sigma Theta Tau building to the north.

Purdue’s Academic Success Building is expected to occupy at least a portion the Lot 73 parking area on the current IUPUI campus at the northwest corner of West Michigan Street and West Street. Lot 37 is in the center of this image. (Image courtesy of Google)

Funding for the project, approved Friday by Purdue University’s board of trustees, will come from a mix of housing and dining fees ($105 million), funds from the Indiana General Assembly ($60 million), and gifts ($22 million). The funding approval was first reported by Mirror Indy.

“This will be the starting heartbeat of our campus in Indianapolis,” said David Umulis, senior vice provost of Purdue University in Indianapolis. “We’ve been really engaged with local community stakeholders on ways that they can be involved in utilizing academic space and having it be something that is seen as congruent [to growth] in this part of the city.”

Umulis said preliminary plans call for a gathering space for larger groups, as well as first-floor retail and a dining area with up to 400 seats. It will not include any parking components, as it will be constructed next to an existing parking garage.

“It’s a place for our Purdue students to call home and it will really be an innovative new academic building, distinct from the classical buildings that you see built on large Big Ten campuses,” he said. “That distinction will reflect very well the city that it is a part of.”

Purdue has not yet hired an architect, engineer or construction manager for the project, leaving uncertain such details as height, total housing units and specific design. It’s also not clear what, if any, variances or rezonings the project might require from the city of Indianapolis.

Purdue and IU are set to complete the split of IUPUI on July 1 after a 55-year partnership in downtown Indianapolis. Purdue has been given 28 acres in the northeast quadrant of the campus to build out its own physical campus. Umulis said university staff is now working on a master plan for the area.

In a memorandum included in the board’s agenda, Purdue officials said the building “will evolve with the needs of experiential education, accommodate courses that would not otherwise be offered with existing space, and provide on-campus housing.”

Umulis said the programs that will be housed in the building will require more makers space than other degrees, allowing students to build and work on projects. Purdue is set to introduce two new programs in Indianapolis in the fall: one focused on integrated business and engineering and another focused on actuarial sciences.

Purdue will continue to use five buildings on the IU Indianapolis campus after the split, generally to house its existing programs.

The school is also forming long-term partnerships across Indianapolis focused on specific programs. This includes an agreement with Dallara for 20,000 square feet at its Speedway facility for the motorsports engineering program, a deal with Elanco for a new building at the former General Motors Stamping Plant site on the west bank of the White River, and an agreement with High Alpha for the executive education program within the Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. School of Business.

The master planning process is expected to conclude by the end of this year, although the plan is expected to be regularly revised as the campus comes into its own.

“It allows us to set a target in place to focus our efforts and vision,” Umulis said, “but at the same time, it allows there to be changes and to be nimble in response to our needs.”

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