Carmel complex's new owner plans major upgrade

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Zeller Realty Group plans to invest $4 million to update a trio of high-profile but underused office buildings along Carmel’s North Meridian Street corridor after acquiring the properties in late November.

“The previous owner just ran out of money,” said Mark Vollbrecht, a senior vice president who manages Indianapolis operations for the Chicago-based real estate firm.

Meridian Plaza, on the east side of Meridian between 103rd Street and 106th Street, was set for sheriff’s sale in Hamilton County on Oct. 31. Public records show Wells Fargo had a $36 million judgment against former owner ARI-Meridian Plaza LLC.

Vollbrecht said Zeller purchased the property from the loan servicing pool for an undisclosed sum. Local observers estimate the market value of the 306,000-square-foot complex to be $20 million.

California-based Argus Realty Investors LP bought the three-building Meridian Plaza office park for $38 million in 2005, before the economic meltdown. The company later merged with a real estate investment trust that is now facing investor lawsuits alleging fraud.

Zeller entered the central Indiana real estate market in 1999. Its office holdings include One College Park, near West 86th Street and Michigan Road in Indianapolis, and Carmel’s Meridian Mark I and II, at Meridian and 116th streets.

The granite-clad Meridian Mark buildings are 88-percent leased and expected to hit the market soon. Brokers told IBJ last month that they could fetch as much as $57 million.

Meridian Plaza, meanwhile, is a little more than half full. Tenants include First Merchants Bank and RQAW Consulting Engineers and Architects.

But the suburban office market is heating up, and brokers said Meridian Plaza’s prime location just north of Interstate 465, across the highway from St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana, will be even more appealing once the state finishes a major overhaul of Meridian/U.S. 31.

“It couldn’t be better located,” said Adam Broderick, a senior vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle who leases the nearby Meridian Corporate Plaza. “It’s the first thing you see when you come off of 465 at Meridian.”

“It’s the gateway to Carmel, if you will,” concurred Dan Richardson, a senior vice president at CBRE’s local office. Richardson has sold Meridian Plaza twice and handled leasing for the complex for about 10 years.

Built in the mid- to late-1980s, Meridian Plaza might need some TLC, but Broderick said it has the “bones” to bounce back. Class A office space in the Carmel submarket is more than 90-percent leased, he said.

“I’m 99 percent confidence [Zeller] can turn it around and do it pretty quick,” Broderick said.

Zeller plans to spruce up Meridian Plaza’s lobbies, parking lots and other common areas, adding fitness facilities and possibly new tenant spaces.

The “virtually vacant” northernmost building, at 10585 N. Meridian, is more of an opportunity than a challenge, Vollbrecht said. With nearly 70,000 square feet of available space—and amenities like a balcony and fireplaces—it could accommodate a single user looking to establish a significant presence in Carmel.

“A large block of vacant space in the most desirable submarket in the suburbs … that just doesn’t exist,” agreed Broderick, the Jones Lang LaSalle broker. “Everything else in the area is extremely well-leased.”


  • Major Upgrade?
    Can $4 million split between 3 mid-rise buildings really be considered a "major upgrade"? It sounds more like lobby refreshes and a few topcoats of asphalt.
  • Good News
    Good News. When the 31/ upgrade is completed the area will change dramatically as all the stop lights will be gone. The new metro transit will run footsteps from their door. Add to the area it will also be bicycle friendly for commuters

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  1. By Mr. Lee's own admission, he basically ran pro-bono ads on the billboard. Paying advertisers didn't want ads on a controversial, ugly billboard that turned off customers. At least one of Mr. Lee's free advertisers dropped out early because they found that Mr. Lee's advertising was having negative impact. So Mr. Lee is disingenous to say the city now owes him for lost revenue. Mr. Lee quickly realized his monstrosity had a dim future and is trying to get the city to bail him out. And that's why the billboard came down so quickly.

  2. Merchants Square is back. The small strip center to the south of 116th is 100% leased, McAlister’s is doing well in the outlot building. The former O’Charleys is leased but is going through permitting with the State and the town of Carmel. Mac Grill is closing all of their Indy locations (not just Merchants) and this will allow for a new restaurant concept to backfill both of their locations. As for the north side of 116th a new dinner movie theater and brewery is under construction to fill most of the vacancy left by Hobby Lobby and Old Navy.

  3. Yes it does have an ethics commission which enforce the law which prohibits 12 specific items. google it

  4. Thanks for reading and replying. If you want to see the differentiation for research, speaking and consulting, check out the spreadsheet I linked to at the bottom of the post; it is broken out exactly that way. I can only include so much detail in a blog post before it becomes something other than a blog post.

  5. 1. There is no allegation of corruption, Marty, to imply otherwise if false. 2. Is the "State Rule" a law? I suspect not. 3. Is Mr. Woodruff obligated via an employment agreement (contractual obligation) to not work with the engineering firm? 4. In many states a right to earn a living will trump non-competes and other contractual obligations, does Mr. Woodruff's personal right to earn a living trump any contractual obligations that might or might not be out there. 5. Lawyers in state government routinely go work for law firms they were formally working with in their regulatory actions. You can see a steady stream to firms like B&D from state government. It would be interesting for IBJ to do a review of current lawyers and find out how their past decisions affected the law firms clients. Since there is a buffer between regulated company and the regulator working for a law firm technically is not in violation of ethics but you have to wonder if decisions were made in favor of certain firms and quid pro quo jobs resulted. Start with the DOI in this review. Very interesting.