Law firm taking former Borders coffee shop space

June 19, 2013
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Barnes Thornburg
                              lobby 225pxDon’t look for another retailer to take the space on South Meridian Street formerly occupied by the Borders coffee shop. Greensburg-based MainSource opened a full-service bank branch last October in part of the Borders space located at the high-profile intersection of Washington and Meridian streets. But the south end of the building has remained vacant. Building owner Barnes & Thornburg LLP entertained several proposals from various restaurants interested in the 12,000-square-foot space—none of which were “very high-end”—before choosing to renovate it for the firm’s use, the firm’s executive director, Kenneth V. Kobe, said. “Nothing made sense,” he said of the offers. “We wanted someone with some staying power, so we started thinking about it for our own interests.” Work has begun to move the firm’s reception area from the fifth floor to the ground level. Conference space will be available on the first and second floors of the reception area, enabling the firm to free up space on the fifth floor for additional office use. The firm plans to renovate the ground-level space by incorporating certain aspects of the 16-story building’s rich history. It was built in 1908 and served for decades as the headquarters of the former Merchants National Bank. The teller cages, for example, remain intact and highly visible. Kobe hopes the renovation will be finished by November. He declined to divulge the firm’s investment in the project, only to say that it’s “significant.” The architect on the project is Schmidt Associates.

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  • Yawwwnnnnnn
    Great use of high-profile property. /sarcasm
    • Perfect Use
      This is the perfect use for this space. As soon as Borders vacated the space, the first thing that came to my mind was a formal/official lobby for B&T. They will do this right...and I guarantee the renovation will look very nice from the sidewalk (unlike the Mainsource monstrosity next door).
    • Old News
      We've known for quite some time that this was the plan... too bad they weren't able to bring in another retail use.
    • I Liked it when
      I really liked it better when the space was J. Peterman's!
    • Makes Sense
      Yes, BTLAW, my gosh, how dare someone actually use a historic office building as an office building--sarcasm right back at you.
    • Wow
      B&T certainly has enough of our taxpayer dollars to do this thanks to Mayor Ballard. Given the firm's exceedingly poor reputation in the legal community, the basement would seem a better option.
    • Todd--more sarcasm?
      This is a colossal disappointment. But not a surprise in the least. Why did the potential restaurant use have to be high-end? This gives South Meridian the same profile as a huge portion of Mass Ave--accounting/engineering/law firms that don't need the storefront space for their profitability, but can take advantage of it because Indy has a surplus of retail real estate and a paucity of pedestrians. Rather than keeping this as revenue-generating space for B&T, it sounds like it's going to become glorified Common Area and will more or less go completely dark after 5pm on weekdays and all the time on weekends. What a waste.
      • A Nice Lobby Is Better Than A Low-End Chain
        American Dirt this is private property that historically has been used as office space. There is no obligation, legal, moral, or otherwise to provide "activity" just to promote some New Urbanist dream. You acknowledge that Indianapolis has an excessive amount of retail and commercial space, and then whine that yet more was not added downtown. The market decides whether more retail or restaurant space is needed, and private property owners decide what type of tenants they want in their buildings. Why would yet another low-end chain restaurant or fast-food space be preferable to a nice building lobby? After pouring billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies into its downtown over the past 30 years, is Indianapolis still so desperate for "activity" after 5 PM that it needs to support just any use of property downtown so long as it generates "activity?" Already, many visitors to downtown complain about the excessive amount of chain restaurants and lack of character downtown, so why add yet another boring chain? Barnes and Thornburg made the right move. It is their building and their reputation they should be concerned about, not about providing "activity." Since they could not find an acceptable tenant, they made the right decision to turn the old Border's space into a nice lobby that upholds the decorum of this elegant historic building.

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