A drugstore, likely a CVS or Walgreens, is expected to anchor the ground-level retail space that will be part of the mixed-use redevelopment planned for the downtown Indianapolis Star headquarters property.
The first details of the retail portion of the project emerged in city filings showing developer TWG Development LLC, formerly The Whitsett Group, asking for a variance to allow for a drugstore drive-through, which is not permitted downtown.
A city zoning board had been slated to hear the request Tuesday, but it was continued until Oct. 8 to give the Department of Metropolitan Development more time to review revised plans.
If CVS were to sign a lease with TWG, the pharmacy’s store at 105 E. Ohio St., about a block from the Star building, would close, brokers say. CVS also has a downtown store at 175 N. Illinois St. Neither location has a drive-through.
Walgreens' nearest store to downtown is at 16th and North Meridian streets, where it competes with a CVS. Brokers say Walgreens is scouting for space downtown.
“I think either one, whether CVS or Walgreens, would make sense,” said Gary Perel of Newmark Knight Frank Halakar. “I know Walgreens wants to come into the [downtown] market.”
Another retail broker, Steve Delaney of Sitehawk Retail Real Estate, said both companies have shown interest in about 20,000 square feet of space he’s listing at 101 W. Ohio St.
“CVS and Walgreens both looked at our space,” he said, “so I know they’re looking downtown.”
TWG principal Joe Whitsett could not be reached for comment Monday morning.
A boom in apartment construction and a surge in downtown’s population are making the urban core more attractive to the pharmacies.
TWG’s plans for the Star property call for up to 500 apartments in three buildings. Two of those buildings already exist and the other is to be constructed near the parking garage at the corner of Delaware and New York streets. The building will include 135 apartment units and about 20,000 square feet of retail space, with construction starting by Nov. 1.
A typical free-standing CVS or Walgreens measures about 15,000 square feet, which would take most of the available retail space. But Perel said drugstores in urban settings can be as small as 10,000 square feet.
“You need a nice, compact store downtown,” he said.
TWG in May finalized its purchase of the 190,000-square-foot Star property at 307 N. Pennsylvania St. and its 500-space parking garage with the Star’s parent company, Virginia-based Gannett Co.
The developer tapped into the newspaper’s history by naming the mixed-use project Pulliam Square. Eugene C. Pulliam bought the newspaper in 1944, and the Pulliam family led it for more than 50 years before shareholders sold it to Gannett in 2000.
The Star building actually is four buildings made to look like one with the addition of a brick façade, which TWG does not plan to keep. Part of the southern portion of the building is the only piece slated for demolition.
Meanwhile, Star Publisher Karen Crotchfelt announced in July that the newspaper was negotiating to take a portion of the space in Circle Centre mall vacated by Nordstrom. The high-end department store chain closed the 210,000-square-foot downtown store in July 2011 after 16 years at the location.
Crotchfelt said Monday morning via email that she has no update to report regarding the negotiations.
The Star's operations would not be affected by the first phase of the Pulliam Square project.