Real Estate & Retail and Transportation, Distribution & Logistics

Carmel's Sunrise Café may be nearing sunset: Developer would raze café to make way for retail, office

February 14, 2005

A longtime favorite spot to conduct business over breakfast on the far-north side will close if plans to sell the building that houses Sunrise Café come to fruition.

Locally based Meridian Asset Development has the café building and a surrounding 2-1/2-acre lot at 11450 N. Meridian St. under contract. The seller is an Omaha, Neb.-based trust that owns it and a nearby office building.

If the sale closes as expected in the coming weeks, Meridian Asset plans to raze the café to make way for a two-story, 24,000-square-foot retail and office building.

Plans include a drive-through for a bank on the first floor of the building, plus room for a coffee shop and other retail or restaurant space, on the first floor. The second floor would be leased for traditional or medical office space, said John M. Bales II, president of Meridian Asset Development, an affiliate of locally based Meridian Real Estate.

"There's been a lot of recent activity in that area because of Clarian," Bales said. "There's also no retail serving the west side of Meridian [Street]. ... It's perfect for an office and retail concept."

Any plans for new development would have to be approved by the city of Carmel, but Bales said his team has met with planners and doesn't expect zoning problems.

Clarian Health Partners is planning to open Clarian North, a $235 million hospital and medical complex, just north of 116th Street later this year. The city of Carmel also plans to begin widening 116th Street west to Spring Mill Road this summer in preparation for building an extension of Illinois Street into Clarian's development and south along the west side of Fidelity Plaza, the six-building complex that includes Sunrise Café. Those developments will drive more traffic through the complex, Bales said.

The deal hasn't closed yet, however. Sunrise owner Jim Horsfield said he hasn't heard anything from his landlord that would cause him to move or close the 17-year-old restaurant. The Sunrise Café on East 86th Street near Keystone at the Crossing is under different ownership.

The restaurant near 116th and Meridian has for much of its history been a favorite spot to work out business deals over a plate of bacon and eggs, although newer restaurants have popped up in recent years to claim some of that audience.

"It was the only place for a long time," said Mike Napariu, vice president of marketing for locally based REI Investments Inc., which owns buildings in the area.

The Carmel Sunrise Café building and property is owned by a family trust of Walter and Suzanne Scott and managed by Omaha-based Magnum Resources Inc.

Magnum also manages Fidelity Tower II, a 75,000-square-foot, six-story office building at the southern end of the plaza, and Pennwood I and II on the east side of Meridian Street at 116th Street. Those buildings aren't part of the Meridian Asset proposal. A variety of owners controls the other buildings in Fidelity Plaza.

Meridian Asset's plans are among the first signs that development and infrastructure plans on the North Meridian corridor may change the makeup of the area.

Medical-office activity has picked up since Clarian announced its mammoth hospital project in late 2002. Office experts predict interest from medical users will only increase as the hospital's opening nears. Locally based Lauth Property Group Inc. has begun construction on an 88,000-square-foot medical office building and surgery center near 123rd and Meridian streets. The North Meridian Medical Pavilion is about halfway preleased to physician groups.

Lauth Executive Vice President Mike Curless has said the planned extension of Illinois Street north past the Clarian property will more directly link the medical center to Clarian.

That extension would provide a parallel thoroughfare on the west side of Meridian Street, as Pennsylvania Street does on the east side. The Indiana Department of Transportation is in the final stages of studying alternatives to upgrade U.S. 31 to interstate standards, with limited interchanges, between Interstate 465 and State Road 38.
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