Developer goes west with retail: Lauth's Brownsburg Station to cover nearly 70 acres

July 3, 2006

Lauth Property Group soon will break ground on Brownsburg Station, a massive retail complex that will be one of the largest in the Indianapolis area.

The Brownsburg property, which will be roughly 500,000 square feet and sit on almost 70 acres, will take advantage of the west side's rapidly growing suburbs.

The project received preliminary approval from the town of Brownsburg in late June and needs only to clear a few minor hurdles before building can begin. Tenants could move in as early as fall 2007.

The development will be just southwest of the intersection of Interstate 74 and State Road 267. It will be the ninthlargest outdoor shopping center in the metropolitan area, and the fourthlargest on the west side, behind Metropolis, Plainfield Commons and Avon Commons Shopping Center.

The land, currently used for agricultural purposes, is under contract from three local families.

Indianapolis-based Lauth said it's too early to estimate development costs. Clay Terrace, a similar-size, but more upscale, project in Carmel developed by Lauth and Indianapolisbased Simon Property Group Inc., cost $100 million.

North Carolina-based home improvement retailer Lowe's has announced plans to be one of two anchor tenants, but has not signed a lease, said Ken Cave, a vice president of retail development for Lauth. Lowe's representatives did not immediately return a call for comment.

An apparel store will likely be the other anchor, although Cave declined to share the names of tenants that have been contacted about the location. Midsize stores, smaller shops and restaurants likely will fill the remaining space, Cave said.

Hot property

Retail experts predict Brownsburg Station will attract big-name national retailers.

"Brownsburg is one of Hendricks County's fastest-growing towns," said Allison Tiefeo, a retail associate with the local office of St. Louis-based Colliers Turley Martin Tucker. "It has strong residential growth and strong incomes."

The population within five miles of the site is expected to mushroom within five years, from 46,000 to almost 55,000, according to a demographic analysis prepared by Lauth.

Roughly 15,000 people lived in Brownsburg in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That number is expected to grow to almost 20,000 by 2010.

Lauth's demographic analysis shows the average household income within three miles of the site is $78,000. That's $9,000 higher than the average household income within three miles of Keystone at the Crossing, one of the most affluent rings in Marion County.

The close proximity to the interstate also puts almost 300,000 people within regular shopping distance, Cave said.

Not to mention that anchors like Lowe's serve as magnets.

"[Lowe's] will help attract other retailers," Tiefeo said. "It'll be a strong draw."

A national electronics retailer, local nail salon and a national sandwich franchise have already signed deals for space in a neighboring project, the 33,000-square-foot Northfield Commons, slated to open in October.

"We have some pretty good initial leasing activity," said Kyle Hughes, vice president of Indianapolis-based Veritas Realty LLC, leasing representative for the property's owner, Indianapolis-based RTF Realty Co. He declined to share the names of the retailers.

The Lauth development will only help lease the remaining space in Northfield Commons, Hughes said.

"Another project in the area always creates a certain amount of momentum," he said.

Brownsburg is in northeast Hendricks County, the second-fastest-growing county in Indiana and the 23rd-fastest-growing in the nation, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates from 2000 to 2004.

Demographics alone, however, won't make the project a success.

"Brownsburg is underserved today," said Clint Fultz, a principal of Indianapolis-based Prime-Site Brokers, "If done properly, the project can be successful."

He cautioned that the architecture, site layout and retail mix would determine whether Brownsburg Station attracted shoppers.

Indianapolis-based Architects Forum designed Brownsburg Station, which will resemble a town center more than a strip mall.

"The question is, where do you put it and how [is it] positioned?" Fultz said. "I'm not sure [Lauth] has solved that with that location."

While the center is close to the interstate, it's tucked behind a Wal-Mart so it does not have immediate access to I-74 and S.R. 267.

Nonetheless, Brownsburg officials are excited about the project's economic ramifications.

"More retail space is needed in the town of Brownsburg ... to help alleviate the tax burden on some of the residents," said Walter Duncan, executive director of the Brownsburg Chamber of Commerce. "The more commercial and retail [development] you have, the less the burden on real estate property taxes."
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