Friday Favorite: Coca Cola Bottling Co. on Mass Ave

Written by on September 7, 2012 in Friday Favorites - 15 Comments
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First thing you might think about today’s favorite: “Just hop on the bus, Gus…” and while there may be “50 Ways to Leave your Lover,” there doesn’t seem to be ONE for getting the school bus parking lot easing on down the road. (Music on the mind today)

With all the amazing things happening on Mass Ave, you’d think the buses would be outta here by now. Yet, they remain. With the new development going on adjacent, perhaps the tipping point on this property is soon to follow? Just seems tragic that this hasn’t been re-purposed yet. Pretty much everyone is in agreement, aren’t we: it’d be great to see live-work or condos above/ retail below. And it seems with the renaissance of the rest of the area, it’s ripe for just such a project. There was talk  of something like that a few years ago, yet it never came to fruition. Was it money or reluctance on the part of IPS, or both? Also, if there was enough demand for business to sustain it, a redo that ends up like the Helms Bakery in Culver City, California would be awesome.

This building opened to the public in September 1931, cost $500,000 to construct the original set of buildings and was designed by Rubush and Hunter and built by the William P. Jungclaus Construction Company– just across the street from this building. The campus continued to expand, adding more buildings and space in the coming decades, at one time, purportedly cranking out more bottles than any other bottling plant in the country.

The terra cotta is awe-inspiring, manufactured by the Indianapolis Terra Cotta Company. Don’t you see this as a great place for commercials, photo shoots and movie scenes? What would your ideal scenario for this space look like?

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Tiffany Benedict Browne is the founder and driving force behind HistoricIndianapolis.com. She loves learning, sharing and inspiring Indy's stories.

15 Comments on "Friday Favorite: Coca Cola Bottling Co. on Mass Ave"

  1. Steph Mineart December 16, 2011 at 11:40 am · Reply

    Live work – if they made them that I’d be tempted to give up my ONS house and move in.

  2. akacaptainrandom December 23, 2011 at 10:08 am · Reply

    Word on the street is that this property was available in a land swap type deal for some time. However potential investors didn’t want to swap property and construct an new bus facility for IPS.

  3. Marty September 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm · Reply

    I’ve heard gossip over the years that this building might one day house a downtown Target store. I’m sure there are mixed emotional reactions to that idea. However, as a downtown resident, I would sure appreciate a quality big box outlet like Target located closer to home. And perhaps it would be a way to accessibly locate such a business while at the same time respecting and preserving the architecture and history of the building. Of course, I envision minimal alterations to the exterior, and I don’t know if Target (or similar retail giants) have a history of that sort of downtown development.

    • basil berchekas jr September 7, 2012 at 7:04 pm · Reply

      Maybe yhis might be a “first” for target then; maybe their red color use in other stores could be subdued, but used in a manner similar to coke’s use of the color red, as well as white…hopefully!

  4. basil berchekas jr September 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm · Reply

    Took an interesting tour of coca cola bottling taking place there (Sablosky’s discount store where our Mom shopped was next door-I have dated myself!)

  5. Julie Perry September 7, 2012 at 1:33 pm · Reply

    Great post, Tiffany! I used to live across the street back in 2001-2003. There was a lot of talk back then of turning it into a retail/dining space. It’s an idea that certainly wouldn’t suck — your post is spot on though: they need to say “Bye Bye Bussy.” (I tried to stay with your music theme.)

  6. Robby Slaughter September 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm · Reply

    I’m surprised one of the big box stores haven’t claimed it yet. I think that a downtown Target or Trader Joe’s could be incredible in that spot.

  7. Seth September 7, 2012 at 10:24 pm · Reply

    A co-worker told me that he hadn’t been downtown in five years. Five years! It really made me think.
    Until more Indianapolis residents care less about lowering taxes and more about having a vibrant cityscape, places like this will sit derelict. There’s tons of great historical places places like this downtown: This place, The Consolidated Building, The Illinois Building, Old City Hall, Lots of places on Washington between Penn and Meridian, and many others, but they sit empty. There’s a vocal minority who do care, but the average Indianapolis resident would rather go to places like Wal-Mart and Applebees. We will never move forward if this is the prevailing attitude.

    • basil berchekas jr September 8, 2012 at 6:33 pm · Reply

      Hate to admit it, but this sounds correct. This city, like Atlanta, could be more aggressive in promoting revitalization…especially via public-private partnerships.

  8. Downtown Tim September 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm · Reply

    Target is expending into urban areas, and has gotten good marks on working with historic buildings. Within the past few months, they have opened a new concept called “Target City” stores, the first being in downtown Chicago in the Carson Pirie Scott building designed by Louis Sullivan. Target has acknowledged that they spent more than they normally would on renovating the historic facade and interior details of the Carson building, but the good press has definitely been worth it. Here is a link to an article in the NY times:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/26/business/retailers-expand-into-cities-by-opening-smaller-stores.html

    Also, the main sticking point to the sale of the Coca Cola building has been the reciprocal trade for land that IPS has been requesting. Originally, IPS was asking to swap the Coke property for an equivalent building for their bus depot within a certain mileage radius of downtown, plus a monetary payout for the building. While trying to get money for development right now is not always easy, finding the amount of land for a new bus barn within the distance requirement has also been a problem. Find a solution for this, and redevelopment for the Coke building can proceed. Also don’t forget that the Coke building includes maintenance space for the city school buses, plus kitchen facilities for producing food that is served at most IPS schools. A lot goes on in this location!

    • Tiffany Benedict Berkson September 10, 2012 at 9:55 pm · Reply

      Yes, but they also are schlepping those buses to the far corners of the city, if I understand correctly. And gas prices being what they are… Since there are all these townships, it would make more sense to me in this case that there be a few smaller places between some of the townships out in the burbs.

    • basil berchekas jr September 10, 2012 at 9:59 pm · Reply

      Do wish to follow the saga on this choice piece of downtown real estate…

  9. Judy Scholtes January 21, 2014 at 6:12 am · Reply

    Was there a company called Indianapolis Bottling Co. At one time? I have a bottle that looks like a green coke bottle with a C on the bottom.And on the side it has Indianapolis bottling Co.

  10. GUY MAGER January 27, 2014 at 3:41 pm · Reply

    This building is great lets put it good use and have some coke history inside and shair the history just like the car history just think coke-ford-gm-dodge and so on are the history of the great USA.
    THIS BUILDING SHOULD BE ON TOUR JUST LIKE THE OLD FORD BUILDING –MALLORY AND SO ON LETS DO THIS INDIANAPOLIS
    THIS WOULD BE GREAT FOR RACE CARS AND CAR MAKERS HERE IN INDIANA

    • basil berchekas jr January 27, 2014 at 9:29 pm · Reply

      Agreed. Both my sister and I took a couple of tours there when it was bottling coke.

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