Real Estate & Retail

Premier lays off workers as lawsuits, debt pile up

April 7, 2008
Cory Schouten
Premier Properties USA Inc. has eliminated about half its headquarters staff—more than 40 employees—as banks seize several of its properties and CEO Christopher P. White faces a barrage of new lawsuits alleging unpaid bills, defaulted loans, illegally redirected rent payments and check fraud.
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Premier Properties lays off workers as lawsuits, debt pile upRestricted Content

April 7, 2008
Cory Schouten
Premier Properties USA Inc. has eliminated about half its headquarters staff--more than 40 employees--as banks seize several of its properties and CEO Christopher P. White faces a barrage of new lawsuits alleging unpaid bills, defaulted loans, illegally redirected rent payments and check fraud.
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Developer pulls back on growth to survive precarious economyRestricted Content

March 31, 2008
Cory Schouten
The CEO of locally based Lauth Group Inc. says most people he knows in the business, even the steely types who always project optimism, are privately nervous about the economic morass that began with a collapse in subprime mortgages.
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BEHIND THE NEWS: 2 tech firms planning IPOs get curveball from marketsRestricted Content

March 31, 2008
Greg Andrews
Aprimo Inc. and ExactTarget Inc. haven't had to weather the recent stock-market turmoil. Not directly, at least. But the two Indianapolis software companies-which filed plans for IPOs last fall, when markets were comparatively serene-surely would have made their public debuts by now if conditions had remained favorable. Lately, they've been anything but. The tech-heavy NASDAQ Composite is off 12 percent in the year. And the volatility of the Dow Jones industrial average is enough to make anyone queasy. One day,...
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Struggling Noble Roman's takes over franchisee's 6 unitsRestricted Content

March 24, 2008
Cory Schouten
Noble Roman's Inc. has taken over the operation of six franchised restaurants in Indianapolis in a bid to prove its concept can be executed profitably. The move--which comes amid a chorus of discontent from franchisees and as the company explores the possibility of selling itself--could help the 1,000-restaurant chain avoid the embarrassment of store failures in its own back yard.
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Mortgage blues haven't hit all: Some firms are holding their own despite housing, credit slumpRestricted Content

March 24, 2008
Scott Olson
The local office of Cleveland-based KeyBank has hired a banking veteran to lead a revamped mortgage department that will boast a larger sales force. And locally based mortgage firm Signature Group recently completed construction of its new headquarters and added three brokers. In this climate of ballooning foreclosures and rising interest rates, one might wonder whether executives of the aforementioned institutions are reading the wrong spreadsheets. To the contrary, despite the gloomy picture monthly housing statistics paint, they are among...
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Farm Fresh clients pay a premium to support local growers, organicsRestricted Content

March 24, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
Matt Ewer and his wife, Elizabeth Blessing, launched Farm Fresh Delivery LLC in July. With nearly 500 subscribers already, the organically- and locally-grown-groceries delivery business is blooming in a segment where many large, mass-market retailers failed during the dotcom bust.
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Texas investor wins over Steak n Shake shareholders, aims for chairmanship

March 17, 2008
Cory Schouten
Texas investor Sardar Biglari rode a wave of shareholder anger to a landslide victory in his quest for Steak n Shake Co. board seats. Now, the dissident 30-year-old investor who models his approach after Warren Buffett's is hoping to deliver on his promise to turn around the Indianapolis-based chain, with or without the chairmanship he covets.
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Proposals to loosen Indiana's wine distribution system failRestricted Content

March 17, 2008
Jonathan Hiskes
At IBJ press time, the General Assembly was set to close another session without significant change to the state's complex alcohol distribution system, ensuring another year of wrangling between wineries and wholesalers. A proposal to raise the direct shipping limit to 10,000 cases failed. So did a broader deregulation bill brought by a new Indiana wine drinker's group, VinSense.
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Creditor pursues troubled Premier's property

March 10, 2008
Cory Schouten
Wachovia Bank has begun foreclosure proceedings on one of Premier  Properties  USA Inc.’s most prized developments, a giant Ohio lifestyle center anchored by Target and J.C. Penney.
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Local restaurants add sites, consider taking on chainsRestricted Content

March 10, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
Several local eateries are going through a growth spurt, adding locations despite central Indiana diners' reputation for being addicted to national chains. Ironically enough, the expansions could be the first step in transforming the local restaurants into chains themselves.
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Creditor pursues Premier propertyRestricted Content

March 10, 2008
Cory Schouten
Wachovia Bank has begun foreclosure proceedings on one of Premier Properties USA Inc.'s most prized developments, a giant Ohio lifestyle center anchored by Target and J.C. Penney. The Charlotte, N.C.-based bank also is foreclosing on a vacant former Wal-Mart store in front of Premier's Metropolis mall in Plainfield.
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City doles out incentives to Defender Direct:Restricted Content

March 3, 2008
Cory Schouten
The city plans to designate part of an office park near 96th Street and Keystone Avenue as an "economic revitalization area" to provide tax abatements for a local company that sells ADT security systems and Dish Network subscriptions. The company, Defender Security Co., has pledged to more than triple its Indiana work force-adding more than 1,100 new jobs-over the next 10 years. The state offered the company up to $6 million in tax credits and $345,000 in training grants to...
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Browning eyes airport landRestricted Content

March 3, 2008
Chris O'Malley
Browning Investments is contemplating developing a business park just north of Indianapolis International Airport in what would be the largest development to date in the so-called Minnesota Street corridor.
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Rug dealers' going-out-of-business sales aren't always what they seemRestricted Content

March 3, 2008
Tracy Donhardt
Phony going-out-of-business sales long have plagued Oriental rug retailing here and across the country, dealers say. The industry is susceptible because Oriental rugs can cost thousands of dollars, and many consumers lack the expertise to judge whether a rug's quality matches its price.
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Airport may pay $8.8 million for hotel: Deal pending; Westin won't open until at least 2009Restricted Content

February 25, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
The Indianapolis Airport Authority board this month approved spending up to $8.8 million to help fund construction of a hotel connected to the midfield terminal set to debut Oct. 28. But delays in finalizing a deal with developer Mansur Real Estate Services means the $50-million-plus Westin will not be ready for guests until August 2009 at the earliest. The airport board picked Indianapolis-based Mansur to build the hotel nearly a year ago. "We're still talking about what it's going to...
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Office tower bounces back: Renovated National City Center recovering from loss of SimonRestricted Content

February 25, 2008
Scott Olson
Once reeling from the loss of its largest tenant, National City Center now has a rising occupancy rate amid a major renovation that is resuscitating the aging office building. Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group Inc. vacated 182,000 square feet in National City Center by moving to its new headquarters a block away in the fall of 2006. The departure left the 16-story tower at the southwest corner of Washington and Illinois streets 28-percent unoccupied after years of being nearly full. Owner...
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Housing slump puts Gramercy project in Carmel on hold:

February 25, 2008
Scott Olson
The deteriorating housing market and Carmel's plans to build more roundabouts have led The Buckingham Cos. to put the brakes on its ambitious Gramercy development project. The $500 million project set to begin in the spring now has no timetable. But when construction ultimately commences, it likely will begin with the commercial and retail portions rather than the home-building portion, as was originally planned, said Clyde Lee, a spokesman for the local developer. "They have revised the plans," Lee said....
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BEHIND THE NEWS: How a smart businessman invested his way into prisonRestricted Content

February 25, 2008
Greg Andrews
In 1994, Indianapolis real estate entrepreneur Mark Ristow read some investment advice that changed his life. In the book "Beating the Street," Peter Lynch, the former star mutual fund manager, described a "can't lose proposition (almost)" called bank-conversion investing. The game: Buying stock in mutual, depositor-owned banks when they convert into public companies. Depositors get in at the initial-public-offering price, often a discount. So "the next time you pass a mutual savings bank or an S&L that's still cooperatively owned,"...
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Right time for REITs?: Some predict beaten-down sector is ready for another winning streakRestricted Content

February 25, 2008
Cory Schouten
For seven years, real estate investment trusts delivered returns that clobbered the overall stock market. Then, last year, the winning streak came to an end. Between January 2007 and January 2008, REITs as a whole lost 24 percent of their value. An index of the companies took a bigger hit than most every other sector. Among local REITs, Duke Realty Corp. was the hardest hit, with its stock price falling 44 percent, from about $41 to $23, during the one-year...
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Kite lands in hot retail spotRestricted Content

February 25, 2008
Cory Schouten
Another high-profile local developer is making a move to capitalize on the city's hottest retail corridor, joining mall giant Simon Property Group Inc. and upstart Premier Properties USA Inc. Kite Realty Group Trust paid $18.3 million for Rivers Edge shopping center, a 111,000-square-foot property just east of Clearwater Crossing.
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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: Protestors shouldn't control community developmentRestricted Content

February 25, 2008
Brian Mann
N e i g h b o r h o o d activists in Pittsburgh are fighting a development that would bring a grocery store, job training center, youth programs and other social services to the area of the Pittsburgh Penguins' $290 million arena. The Pittsburgh group was planning a march in protest. Is retail and commercial development next to a sports arena a bad idea? A Cambridge, Mass., neighborhood group was opposed to the development of three townhomes, arguing...
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Commentary: A story we all should heedRestricted Content

February 11, 2008
Mickey Maurer
Last month, Brightpoint Inc. Chairman and CEO Bob Laikin was honored with Indiana University's Distinguished Entrepreneurs-In-Residence Award. If the selection committee was looking for an executive with pluck, it chose well. The IU Kelley School of Business hosts the Distinguished Entrepreneurs-In-Residence program to inspire students and help them learn about the challenges of starting or expanding an emerging business. Laikin's tumultuous and exciting journey left the students as dizzy as a day-long ride on the Kings Island Beast. Laikin founded...
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Winona trustee still fighting hospital creditors, ex-ownerRestricted Content

February 11, 2008
J.K. Wall
Paul Gresk, the bankruptcy trustee overseeing the liquidation of Winona Memorial Hospital, is pushing for a showdown in court to prove his claims that Winona's former owner, Leland Medical Centers Inc., illegally transferred more than $4 million out of Winona.
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Law firms making green push: Environmental teams provide marketing boostRestricted Content

February 11, 2008
Scott Olson
The next generation of environmental law is coming to a firm near you. Many law firms have existing practices that counsel clients on the complexities of complying with air and water permits or cleaning up contaminated properties. But now that the corporate sector is embracing "green" initiatives quicker than Al Gore accumulates carbon credits, environmental law is becoming as sexy as, say, intellectual property. Two of the city's largest firms-Ice Miller LLP and Baker & Daniels LLP-recently unveiled so-called "green"...
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