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City to give Angie's List $4.6M to buy properties for expansion

August 16, 2011

Money for real estate acquisition is a major component of the $7.1 million in incentives the city of Indianapolis offered Angie's List Inc. for expanding its headquarters campus to accommodate 500 more employees.

Henry Amalgamated, a real estate company co-owned by Angie's List CEO Bill Oesterle, already has placed several properties under contract, including Last Chance Towing at 1024 E. Market St., CEO Bill Oesterle said Tuesday. Others are along East Washington Street, west of Angie’s List's current headquarters.

Angie's List, which provides customer-review services in more than 200 markets, announced Tuesday that it would nearly double its employee base by hiring as many as 500 people by 2015. The company had been scouting sites in Fishers and other states as it outgrew its near-east-side campus. The cost of acquiring and renovating more buildings in the neighborhood was among the concerns that drove Oesterle to check out suburban areas.

Angie's List moved to an old firehouse at 1030 E. Washington St. 11 years ago and has expanded in a patchwork fashion so that its 650 employees occupy 13 buildings.

The Angie's List campus is bordered by Ohio Street on the north, East Washington Street on the south, Interstate 65/70 on the west and Highland Avenue on the east.

The city will use tax-increment financing revenue to reimburse Henry Amalgamated, which leases buildings to Angie's List, for as much as $4.6 million in real estate acquisition costs.

Henry Amalgamated or Angie's List must invest a certain amount beyond the city's money, but officials said Tuesday they were unsure of that minimum amount. Larry Gigerich, an economic development consultant who worked with Angie's List on site selection, said the two companies expect to spend $5 million to $6 million, including what’s reimbursed by the city, on acquisition and rehabbing buildings.

Angie’s List will spend another $4 million to $5 million on personal property, Gigerich said.

The city will also direct $1.5 million of its “Rebuild Indy” funds toward neighborhood and infrastructure improvements. Oesterle said a top candidate for upgrades is Market Street east of downtown.

Finally, the city will direct $1 million in federal tax credits toward Angie’s List. The tax credits would be applied to the newly acquired real estate, said Melissa Todd, vice president of operations at Develop Indy, the city's economic development arm.

Angie’s List is still working on its master plan, but Oesterle said the company will consider building a parking garage and at least one office building. He said he’s looking to fill in “open spots” on Market Street and Washington Street.

Buying the Last Chance Towing property was a key piece of the puzzle, and the contract was struck late Friday, Gigerich said.

Angie's List also will be eligible for as much as $7 million in tax credits from the Indiana Economic Development Corp., based on its plans to hire 500 people.

Mayor Greg Ballard noted that Angie’s List’s expansion will tie into neighborhood improvements spurred by the Super Bowl Legacy project.

“The near east side of town gets even stronger as a result of what Angie’s List is doing here, and that’s very, very special,” he said.

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