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Fishers weighs incentives for office building

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Construction firm Meyer Najem Corp. is planning a $5.5 million office building in downtown Fishers for its growing operations and other high-potential businesses.

Fishers’ Town Council is expected to consider a project agreement Monday that calls for Meyer Najem to construct a 40,000-square-foot building on town-owned land across the railroad tracks from the Fishers Public Library.

Under the terms of the economic-development deal, the town would contribute the undeveloped Maple Street property—worth about $765,000—plus $1.4 million in tax-increment financing for needed improvements.

Meyer Najem, in turn, would move its headquarters from leased space at 131st Street and State Road 37 into the first floor of the two-story building. The company also promised to add 18 jobs by 2015; its 71 existing employees have an average salary of more than $84,000.

Fishers would master lease the 17,500-square-foot top floor, acting as landlord for high-growth companies in need of flexible lease terms. TIF revenue would cover any shortfall between what the town owes Meyer Najem and what the town collects from tenants.

A 125-space surface parking lot on the south side of the building would serve office occupants during the day and be available as public parking on nights and weekends. (The town owns that parcel, too, but plans to keep it for now.)

As IBJ reported in May, Fishers has been acquiring land east of its municipal complex for more than a year in hopes of accelerating downtown redevelopment. Most developers don’t want to bother with the hassle of dealing with multiple property owners.

Meyer Najem approached Fishers’ leaders about six months ago, as company officials began exploring relocation options. The growing firm is all but out of space, and its lease expires next year.

The company also considered moving to Noblesville or Westfield, President Tim Russell said, but those discussions cooled when talks with Fishers heated up.

“Fishers is a vibrant, growing community,” said Russell, a 24-year town resident. “We like where it’s going. And it’s great to be [going] downtown, to be one of the first companies there.”

Town leaders are looking to build a bustling downtown that will attract residents and businesses alike, creating an identity for the community and diversifying its tax base.

The first project: Flaherty & Collins Properties’ The Depot, a $42 million apartment-and-retail project under construction in front of Town Hall. Fishers contributed the land and $11 million for a parking garage. A second, smaller mixed-use development is in the works across Municipal Drive, at the current site of the Fishers Train Station.

The Meyer Najem deal is significant because it gets people downtown, said Town Manager Scott Fadness. Retailers’ interest in an area increases with the daytime population, he said, and having restaurant and shopping options draws more employers.

“If we can create jobs downtown, we can drive more retail, support more retail,” he said. “We have a unique opportunity to drive more and more people to downtown Fishers.”

The appointed boards of the Fishers Redevelopment Commission and Fishers Economic Development Commission also must sign off on the project agreement. Members have been briefed on negotiations during closed executive sessions and are scheduled for a joint meeting with the Fishers Town Council at 7 p.m. Monday.

Feedback so far has been positive, said Tom Dickey, the town’s community development director.

The Meyer Najem deal does not depend on revenue from a proposed food-and-beverage tax—a separate measure the council also is expected to vote on Monday night—but he said future economic development projects might.

Such projects often require public assistance, particularly when a municipality asks private developers to carry out a specific vision. But TIF spending can’t outpace receipts.

“There is a limit with respect to our current resources,” Dickey said.

Fishers officials take an open-book approach to determining the appropriate level of support, reviewing the developer’s financials along with the project details. In Meyer Najem’s case, the proposed incentives make the deal work.

“The town’s participation is important to us,” Russell said.

The construction firm would not be proposing a two-story building without the financial assistance, he said. As it is, the company only plans to use about 17,000 square feet of the ground floor; another 5,500 square feet will be available for future growth.

Designed by Indianapolis-based American Structurepoint, the building includes a patio outside the Meyer Najem break room and a rooftop terrace (open to all tenants) with a view of the town’s Nickel Plate District Amphitheater. Plans also call for indoor bike storage and showers, Russell said.

The company hopes to move in by late next year.

Dickey and Fadness are confident the town will be able to lease second-floor space to entrepreneurs who want to be part of Fishers’ renaissance. The town helped fund coworking space Launch Fishers last year to give promising startups an alternative to the extremes of coffee-shop squatting and long-term leases, and it already has “graduated” its first company, mobile app developer BlueBridge Digital.

Organizers have been working on plans for what’s informally being called Launch 2.0, a next step for Launch Fishers members who have outgrown coworking but aren’t ready for a long-term lease. The Meyer Najem building could fit the bill, at least temporarily.

“It’s a natural progression,” Fadness said.

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  • addl info
    Wow, pretty strong stuff. As a developer, and taxpayer that lives within Fishers, I am in full support of using incentives as a primer for economic development. Each individual incentive may not make perfect sense, but with the appropriate oversight and checks and balances, the long term objective will be accomplished. I only have a few questions as I am not completely familiar with the terms: 1.I assume that the TIF incentive was underwritten without any negative impact to the schools 2. Who purchased the TIF bonds? 3. Is the county on the hook for the TIF, IE; is it a property tax backstop? 4.How long is the space lease term? 5.I the space lease is for 5+ years by the town, the asset can be sold at a decent profit(subject to lease rate). How would that profit be distributed? 6.Why was the land given away vs a long term land lease, which happens all the time. Why would the Town ever want to loose title to the property? 7.Whe is the garantor of the debt for the real estate? pleasee feel free to follow up with answers or comments. Tks
  • TIF
    TIFs cannot possibly "take money from schools" because those parcels produce $0 tax dollars today. Your false assumption is that someone would otherwise develop the land and generate tax revenue, but it's been vacant for nearly two decades. Why would you assume that in the face of historical fact? TIF districts are self-funding and at expiration will benefit the broader tax base, including schools.
  • Election
    The big winner is Scott Fadness. What Andrea has omitted from this article, and for some reason Larry is not commenting on either. The fact that several months ago Meyer Najem hosted a fundraiser for Mr. Fadness 250$ and 75$ for the Fishers for Fadness exploratory committee. Has Fadness promised Andrea and Larry the Dan Domisc deal if they stay away from questioning him on ethical issues. Or has Fadness had the Town Attorny talk to them about what they can say about the election as he did Town Staff? I find it curious that Meyer holds a fundraiser for Mr. Fadness and Meyer is getting 1.4 million handout from Fishers. I bet this is why Fautless wants to keep business dealings behind closed doors from the public because Fishers can't seem to give money away fast enough and they don't have to debate ethical issues pertaining to Fadness's involment. If you are keeping count this is 12.4 million in tax dollars Fishers has given away and valuable real estate with little or no public input. How long will it take for Fishers to recoup these losses? I also like how Fadness can predict how this will get people down town, but cannot tell us how the now shelved tax increase would help or hurt Fishers. I also find it interesting the rumors that Fadness is behind wanting the tax increase. Should an unelected bureaucrat like Fadness dictate to elected officials on what is best for the individuals who elected them to office? I thought the election for mayor had the primary in May and the Election in November? Did town council have their own election behind closed doors and elect Fadness mayor? Is that why Pete is so proud of wearing his Fadness for Fishers shirt? I also find it confusing on the role Fadness played in these negotiations. Was it that of Town Manager a position that will eliminated soon and he might need a job, or was it as Mayoral candidate making campaign promises that he may or may not be able to keep? I would like to see Fadness do what's right and resign and run his campaign as a private citizen. I know this will not happen because he knows he would be on the outside looking in unable to bully, intimidate, and make bad deals.
    • Why???????
      Doesn't make good judgement to pay for a private business to move from one part of town to another. Just another free hand out to people in power.
    • ???
      So Fishers acquires the property with tax payer dollars, hands it over to the developer for free, provides TIF funding for infrastructure, and master leases the least desirable space on the second floor (again with tax payer dollars) so they can move Meyer Najem from another Fishers location. This doesn't seem like a win for the taxpayers or the Landlord that owns the property they lease on SR 37.
      • $$$
        And so it begins. TIF removes tax money from schools, etc. and the public debt begins to mount for handouts to developers, engineers and other cronies. Good luck Fishers. Like the other poster says, follow Carmel's example - hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, insolvent redevelopment organizations and higher taxes.
      • Kudos
        These are the type of Public Private Parnterships that are part of Carmel's New Urbanism and central core redevelopment. If the metro area is going to be competitive in the world economy all communities need to raise their bars. Let's hope the Fishers Council sees the long term benefits if these type PPP's

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