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Dealmaking, construction picking up on Speedway's Main Street

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The restaurant Dawson’s on Main last month bought the building on Main Street in Speedway it has leased since 2006, a vote of confidence in the retail strip that the Speedway Redevelopment Commission would like to see repeated as it continues to nurture development there.

The six-block stretch just outside the front door of the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway was desolate when the redevelopment commission was formed by the town of Speedway in June 2005.

But Main is being transformed thanks to a $10 million streetscape project and the new $7 million Dallara chassis facility, both of which were finished last year, and two big projects that broke ground recently.

Most of the action to date has been on the east side of Main. Now the west side, dotted with retail businesses like Dawson’s, shows signs of feeding off the momentum.

Chris Hill, the owner of Dawson’s on Main, said he’d wanted to buy out his landlord at 1464 Main St. since he opened the restaurant six years ago. The streetscape improvements and the activity on the other side of the street convinced him to take the plunge. So did a new parking lot within view of his restaurant.

The redevelopment commission opened a 67-space surface lot across from Dawson’s last December, replacing some street parking that was lost when wider sidewalks were installed.

“When they put that parking lot in, it made a world of difference to all the businesses. It pretty much inked my signature on buying this building,” Hill said.

The two-story, 8,200-square-foot building was listed for $850,000. Dawson’s occupies the basement and first floor. One of five apartments on the second floor is empty and is being upgraded to attract companies that might want a corporate apartment in Speedway, Hill said. The other apartments will be improved to the same standard whenever they become vacant.

Dawson’s is one of Main Street’s success stories, said Scott Harris, executive director of the redevelopment commission. “Three years ago we had Charlie Brown’s [Pancake House] and Dawson’s.” Now, said Harris, there is Lino’s Coffee and Italian Food Experience at the Dallara facility, a YoguLatte yogurt and coffee shop at 1032 Main and Johnny Bueno’s Pizzeria at 1502 Main.

Harris believes the small collection of restaurants is just the beginning for Main Street, where the redevelopment commission owns almost 30 acres it is trying to get into the hands of private developers.

“The amount of interest is twice what we were having even late last year,” Harris said.

The commission, which hasn’t hired a broker to market the property, bought most of it over the last three years to steer development of the area.

Dallara bought almost six acres. Another two acres immediately north of Dallara was sold to Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, which broke ground last week on a $3 million, 37,000-square-foot headquarters that will include meeting space and interactive exhibits for fans when it opens in the first quarter of next year.

An affiliate of Browning Investments bought almost three acres at the northeast corner of 10th and Main, where ground was broken in May for the $7.3 million, 40,000-square-foot Community Westview Health Pavillion. It will house a variety of health facilities, including Speedway Family Physicians, Speedway Pediatrics and a family medicine residency training program in partnership with Marian University.

Harris said the redevelopment commission is in active negotiations with a developer interested in erecting a mixed-use building and flex office/industrial space on about three acres the commission owns immediately north of the health complex.

On the west side of the street, the commission owns almost four acres. Some of it is vacant land. Other parcels house decades-old buildings, like the former Rosner Drugstore at 16th and Main, that the commission is renting out, at least temporarily. Eventually, said Harris, the plan is for the street to be lined with two- to four-story brick buildings housing residences and businesses.

A key property on the west side is the original Allison factory at 1200 Main. The almost 58,000-square-foot plant was purchased in August 2006 by Walter Medlin, a Florida developer and car enthusiast who intends to convert it to a racing museum. Medlin couldn’t be reached for comment on his plan, which Harris and neighbors said seems slow to materialize.

Bob Lindgren, a commercial real estate broker for Lee & Associates who was involved in the sale of the Dawson’s building, said the building drew plenty of interest, which he attributes to the redevelopment commission’s efforts on behalf of Main Street.

“They’re doing a good job of making sure good things happen,” Lindgren said. “They are working to make it a destination for folks outside of the three obvious weekends.”   
 

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