Real Estate & Retail

BEHIND THE NEWS: Plans in beaten-down state test HHGregg's strategyRestricted Content

April 21, 2008
Greg Andrews
HHGregg Inc.'s audacious expansion strategy is about to get its biggest test. Since 1999, the Indianapolis-based electronics and appliance retailer has charged into eight new metro areas, adding 78 stores in such markets as Atlanta; Knoxville, Tenn.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Charlotte, N.C. The company doesn't tiptoe in. It starts with multiple stores to justify the cost of building distribution infrastructure and launching an advertising blitz. The strategy has allowed it to swiftly build major market shares everywhere it's gone. Now,...
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Texas investor enlists former Steak n Shake exec in quest to revive chainRestricted Content

April 21, 2008
Cory Schouten
Two executives with longtime ties to The Steak n Shake Co. have joined a dissident Texas investor in his quest to overhaul the Indianapolis-based restaurant chain. Shareholders who have agreed to work with Sardar Biglari include a former board member the company once described as a "modern-day founder" of the restaurant chain, along with a former partner in Kelley & Partners Ltd., the investment firm led by company patriarch E.W. Kelley before his 2003 death.
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Premier Properties auction attracts no bids

April 17, 2008
J.K. Wall
No bids were submitted today at an auction for control of 10 properties owned by Indianapolis-based Premier Properties USA Inc., the financially troubled development company run by Chris White.
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Commentary: Jim Browning, a champion of the cityRestricted Content

April 14, 2008
Tom Harton
It was probably 15 years ago when Jim Browning called and invited me to lunch for the first time. I don't recall why he extended the invitation, but I remember from the lunch that he was interested in what I had to say. And that surprised me. I didn't know Jim then, but I knew of him through his architecture firm, Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf. I also associated him with the group of bold civic leaders who came up with...
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Building opportunities: CREW Careers offers girls a glimpse into the diverse world of commercial real estateRestricted Content

April 14, 2008
Della Pacheco
While one college basketball team just completed its journey to a national championship, CREW Network's women hope they're on a similar winning path-a path to scoring parity in the male-dominated field of commercial real estate. The Commercial Real Estate Women Network is a national member organization dedicated to the advancement of women in commercial real estate. It has 66 chapters, including one in Indianapolis. In 2005, CREW Network completed the industry's first comprehensive study of the status of women in...
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One Indiana Square owner sues insurer over storm-damage repairsRestricted Content

April 14, 2008
Cory Schouten
The owners of a downtown skyscraper badly damaged in a 2006 storm are suing their insurance company after it halted payments on a facade-replacement project. The suit, filed April 1, accuses the insurance company of a "bad faith" attempt to avoid paying for repairs to the 36-story One Indiana Square building at the northeast corner of Pennsylvania and Ohio streets.
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St. V: ERs needed in suburbs: Traditionally unprofitable service could thrive in two growing areasRestricted Content

April 14, 2008
Scott Olson
Building these facilities i n proven "growth markets" such as Boone and Hamilton counties, however, should prove more prosperous, insists St. Vincent CEO Vincent Caponi. A more upscale demographic is the telling factor. Yet, the network of hospitals is not about to abandon its purpose of serving the needy. "That doesn't mean the poor and underserved aren't going to be coming to our front door," Caponi said. "That's always been part of our mission. We will continue [to], and gladly,...
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BREAKING: Lender to sell Premier properties

April 9, 2008
Cory Schouten
An auction this month could strip locally based Premier Properties USA Inc. of most of its real estate holdings.
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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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