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CIB mulling sale of historic downtown building

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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.
 

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  • Historic/Architectural Significance?
    Can this building be bought and razed or must it be preserved? Let's hope it's not the former or we could end up with something less congruent with the other buildings in the vicinity and a building of lesser quality.
  • Keeper
    Politics or not, this building should be a keeper at this location. Ratio should get a deal with mega incentives like DLZ did down the street, so they could maybe buy it? We have too many empty and vacant downtown sites to redevelop this site. The City and the CIB need to eat their losses and let the private sector have a chance to own and fix this up at a marketable and afforable rate. City Way got City financing, DLZ got free money, and we spent $12+M on Gerogia Street. Retaining this building seems like a no-brainer.
  • Great Deal
    Can the CIB sell Lucas Oil to the Colts and sell Bankers Life to Pacers Sports Corp and pay off the public debt? So it was so important to buy that building in 1999 hold it and now sell it? What taxpayer service did that support? How about the CIB do a seller financed @100% for one of the Mayors buddies? Finance it at say 1% over 50 years and have that consulting company come down and issue some report on why it's such a good idea and make the taxpayers all this money. Make the agreements real complicated and make sure you have the heavy hitter law firms draft up a contract and bill the city $250,000 in fees, have Lathrops firm perform some Audit on the landlords books bill the taxpayers $125,000 then let an insider that wants the property for $3.0 mill work out a deal to get a commission of 6% to one of their affiliates or buddy they owe money. Yeah it will be great for the taxpayers. before its over the taxpayers will be writing a check since the building needs a whole lotta deferred maintenance and repairs... Crony Capitalism...
  • Corrected
    Jig, you are correct. We've revised the story.
  • Wrong Ober Building
    " ... purchased the then-popular Merrill bookstore in 1945, changed the name to the Ober bookstore, and moved it to its final location in the Ober building. It survived as Indianapolis’ premier independent bookseller until 1983." The Ober bookstore was in a differnt Ober building on the west side of Pennsylvania between Washington and Market, just south of the NW corner. The historic name of the building was Wen or close to that.

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