Apartment Construction Site Burns in Downtown Indianapolis

March 13, 2009

A fire gutted an under-construction apartment complex in Indianapolis, Ind., on the morning of Mar. 11, just a few blocks north of the Statehouse. The complex was valued at $28 million.

No injuries were reported. The buildings were not yet occupied.

Fire spread throughout the Cosmopolitan on the Canal complex and it was considered a total loss, Fire Department Capt. Rita Reith said.

The complex is in a block along the pedestrian walkway-lined downtown canal, where several other residential and office buildings are located, on the western edge of downtown. The fire sent gray smoke billowing around the spotlight-lit Statehouse dome three blocks away in the pre-dawn hours.

Mark Conover, a spokesman for project developer Flaherty & Collins Properties, said the first floor of the complex was set aside for retail shops, with apartments above. The building has several levels and has six floors at its highest point, he said.

“We had framed 170 of the 218 units,” Conover said. “We were hoping to have units available in May.”

About 125 firefighters responded after the fire was reported about 3:30 a.m. and brought the fire under control, Reith said.

A portion of the complex collapsed and firefighters continued pouring water onto the smoldering structure some five hours later.

Reith and Conover both said the fire’s cause was not immediately known.

“We have no clue as to what caused it or where it started,” Conover said.

The upper floor of the neighboring Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana headquarters sustained some damage, Reith said.

The Landmarks Foundation office is a 1879 Italianate home that the organization restored and expanded in a $2.1 million project, according to the group’s Web site.

Residents from a nearby residential building were taken away by city bus, Reith said.

“When you have that many buildings so close together, it was very bright, very spectacular, she said.

Police closed off several downtown streets during the morning commute. That disrupted traffic to the nearby campus of Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, but classes remained on scheduled.

Associated Press Writer Chris Havlik contributed to this report.

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