Buckingham rethinking plans for prime Zionsville site

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Buckingham Cos. says it is still weighing options for a key property it controls in downtown Zionsville, but two nearby landowners are trying to sell their parcels after talks with the developer broke down.

“I guess they decided not to move forward with it,” said Ralph Stacy, who owns a now-vacant commercial building at 125 W. Sycamore St., just west of the former gas station at Main Street and Sycamore that Indianapolis-based Buckingham has under contract.

Stacy has his 1-1/2-acre property up for sale with an $895,000 asking price. Farther west along Eagle Creek, Marcella Compton’s 14.3-acre Zionsville Adult Village mobile home park is available for $500,000.

The listing broker is Cassidy Turley’s Bo Leffel, who also handled Buckingham’s acquisition of the vacant lot at 420 S. Main where a Citgo station once stood. Leffel told IBJ he could not comment on the Buckingham parcel’s status, but the Zionsville Times-Sentinel reported March 19 that the property is back on the market.

The company declined to comment on the report.

“Buckingham is continuing to evaluate various development options for the Zionsville site,” Senior Vice President of Development John Cumming said in a written statement. “We will share additional details as those plans evolve.”

As IBJ reported in October, Buckingham was negotiating to acquire three adjacent lots: Stacy’s and Compton’s properties and the 2.2 acres in between. The company said it was working on plans for a mixed-use project “that effectuates the best of village infill redevelopment.”

Indeed, the corner lot was one of three potential redevelopment sites identified by consultants conducting a downtown market study and parking analysis for the Zionsville Economic Development Commission. The suggested uses: retail, residential and/or offices, with on-site parking behind a building hugging the streets.

Unused since the gas station closed in 2008, the 2.4-acre parcel is considered a crucial connection between Zionsville’s historic village business district and new office and retail development to the south.

Officials are working to ramp up commercial activity and diversify the town’s tax base, but the community is fiercely protective of its quaint downtown.

Neighbors have been anxious about the prospects for the Sycamore property given the scope of other recent Buckingham projects, including the $155 million CityWay apartment-and-retail development in downtown Indianapolis.

Buckingham has not publicly shared any plans for the site, but the company went back to the drawing board after having preliminary conversations with Zionsville leaders and staff, said Town Manager Ed Mitro.

“It just wasn’t going to work,” he said. “We need to make sure whatever goes there fits with the character of the community, enhances the whole rather than an individual parcel.”

Town Council President Jeff Papa assured a neighborhood group in November that officials would take the area’s historic charm into consideration.

“It should not be something that swamps the Village and makes us lose what we have,” Papa said then. “We’re just not going to do something that ruins the Village.”

Any significant development on the site almost certainly has to be dense, given the limitations presented by assorted topographical challenges and the high cost of the land. The Citgo property was listed for $2 million.

A complicated ownership structure and deed restriction kept the Citgo property from being sold for years. IBJ has reported that Buckingham’s deal calls for the developer to lease the land until September 2015, when it can exercise a purchase option.

The town had considered buying the former gas station site, but officials ultimately decided the asking price was too high. Still, when PNC Bank closed its branch at the northwest corner of Sycamore and Main last year, the Town Council voted to pull $650,000 from its Rainy Day Fund to acquire it—and gain additional control over its use.

Buckingham turned down an invitation to meet with members of the Zionsville Village Residents Association in January, but association President Scott Lusk is hopeful the developer will engage neighbors before doing anything on the Citgo site.

“We are excited about good and appropriate development at this important entry to the historic village of Zionsville,” Lusk said.•


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. PJ - Mall operators like Simon, and most developers/ land owners, establish individual legal entities for each property to avoid having a problem location sink the ship, or simply structure the note to exclude anything but the property acting as collateral. Usually both. The big banks that lend are big boys that know the risks and aren't mad at Simon for forking over the deed and walking away.

  2. Do any of the East side residence think that Macy, JC Penny's and the other national tenants would have letft the mall if they were making money?? I have read several post about how Simon neglected the property but it sounds like the Eastsiders stopped shopping at the mall even when it was full with all of the national retailers that you want to come back to the mall. I used to work at the Dick's at Washington Square and I know for a fact it's the worst performing Dick's in the Indianapolis market. You better start shopping there before it closes also.

  3. How can any company that has the cash and other assets be allowed to simply foreclose and not pay the debt? Simon, pay the debt and sell the property yourself. Don't just stiff the bank with the loan and require them to find a buyer.

  4. If you only knew....

  5. The proposal is structured in such a way that a private company (who has competitors in the marketplace) has struck a deal to get "financing" through utility ratepayers via IPL. Competitors to BlueIndy are at disadvantage now. The story isn't "how green can we be" but how creative "financing" through captive ratepayers benefits a company whose proposal should sink or float in the competitive marketplace without customer funding. If it was a great idea there would be financing available. IBJ needs to be doing a story on the utility ratemaking piece of this (which is pretty complicated) but instead it suggests that folks are whining about paying for being green.