The Capital Improvement Board of Marion County, which manages Bankers Life Fieldhouse and other downtown public venues, plans to sell a historic six-story office building near the basketball arena.
CIB members unanimously voted on Monday to begin soliciting bids for the Ober building at the southeast corner of Pennsylvania and Maryland streets.
The group will decide in coming weeks whether to request proposals itself or hand the duties to the city’s Metropolitan Development Commission, which could target the property for redevelopment, CIB President Ann Lathrop said.
“It seems incumbent upon us to test the market,” she said.
Lathrop said prospects recently have expressed interest in buying the building, but she declined to name them. Appraisals will be sought to determine its value, she said.
Newmark Knight Frank Halakar is the leasing agent for the Majestic Building, which houses Mo’s steakhouse, to the north of the Ober building. Todd Maurer, co-owner of the local commercial real estate firm, said he thinks the Ober building will generate some serious offers. Its corner location makes it attractive, Maurer said.
“I think there would be interest, and I think we would have clients interested in buying it,” he said.
A previous attempt to sell the building about five years ago during the commercial real estate slump produced “no takers,” Lathrop said.
The 55,000-square-foot structure was built about 1910 and named for C.S. Ober, a local businessman who founded Business Furniture Corp. and Stationers Inc. Its current tenants include Ratio Architects Inc., the city’s fourth-largest architectural firm. About half the building is leased at rents of about $14 to $15 per square foot.
CIB bought the building for $5.5 million in 1999 during construction of the neighboring arena known then as Conseco Fieldhouse to control the area surrounding it, Lathrop said.
Selling one of its properties would be a first for the CIB. Besides the fieldhouse, it also operates Lucas Oil Stadium, the Indiana Convention Center and Victory Field.
Any sale would need approval from the CIB, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and possibly the City-County Council.