Premier plows forward on Venu

December 17, 2007
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VenuA new site plan for the $750-million Venu project shows four anchor tenants: Whole Foods; Barnes & Noble; Arhaus, an upscale furniture retailer; and REI, an outdoor-gear superstore that would be new to the market. Premier Properties CEO Chris White said he also is talking with Carson Pirie Scott about taking space in the project. In addition to retail, Venu plans call for an office tower, 5,000-seat entertainment venue, at least 15 restaurants and two hotels, all at the southwest corner of 86th Street and Keystone Avenue. Hotel brands under consideration are Westin and Aloft. Can Premier pull it off? The company and its owner are facing some serious financial problems. The full story is here.
  • It would be too bad if Venu turns out to be the last-gasp fantasy of a failing developer.
  • Yes, but didn't it always sounds really ambitious? And this guy's history!! It wasn't until I got my IBJ on Sat. that I realized that he was the flim-flam artist who left everyone holding the bag and a string of bad debts and a black eye for all gyms when the gym founded by him and his brother closed in the 1980's.
  • Failing developer??? Ummm, not quite. This is a very ambitious project that will require an intricate financial puzzle to make it work, but failing developer is not accurate for what he's done.
  • REI would be awesome! I think they would do great and fill a niche left unfilled ever since Galyans closed. I hope they can pull it off.
  • I am supportive on the concept of redeveloping prime land in that area. The only issue I have here is... I assumed this would have been a competitor or some kind of a compliment to Fashion Mall. I was thinking Atlanta's Phipp's Plaza and Lenox Square. I guess I expected too much, because I thought a Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus, Barney's, or some other kind of upscale department store, as well as a collection of smaller high end stores, for instance; Burberry, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, D&G, Armani Exchange, etc... And why another Carson Pirie Scott?? I guess this is going to be another Clay Terrace. With the boring stores like DSW, Dick's, only this place will have Arhaus, B&N, and an outdoor gear store. Doesn't sound very ambitious to me.
  • Dustin -

    For Indianapolis, this is as good as it gets. If you think Indy can support a Neiman Marcus, Barneys or any fashion house boutiques, you must be dreaming!

    The Saks Light at Keystone is barely turning a profit. We are not going to lure another high end retailer until Saks starts doing better.

    Let's face it: Indy simply does not have enough wealth to support another high end cluster like Fashion Mall. The ultra wealthy and exposed in this City don't do a lot of shopping at Keystone anyway; they go to Chicago.

    Switching gears a little bit...Chris White's history is definitely cause for alarm. Take a closer look at Premier's portfolio and you will see that they have done nothing close to the scale of what they are claiming Venu to be. Furthermore, their biggest projects to date are still under construction so we have no way of knowing how successful Premier really is. Our one major local Premier property, Metropolis, is doing okay but not great; things may improve, but its really just too premature to tell.

    On a more positive note, REI would be great for the City.

    To wrap up: Dustin, Indy is what it is and although I would like many of the things you want, it's just not going to happen anytime soon. I hope Mr. White can get his act together or find a solid partner to develop Venu. What has been announced is a good start. As Indy continues to grow (albeit rather anemically, I should note), the high end boutiques will come. Until then, let's just sit tight and hope the project gets off the ground.
  • I was wondering who REI was. I've been hearing a lot of radio commercials for them over the last month on the local ESPN affiliate. Kind of surprising considering we don't have one. I too was surprised the retail selection wasn't more of a direct competitor to the Fashion Mall. This does sound a lot more like Clay Terrace.
    Also, I assume that Arhaus will be closing its location two miles up the street if this deal goes through.
    The 15(!) restaurants sounds great. Unless it is a 15 vendor mall food court.
    As for the developer, the IBJ story does make me worry a little bit, but they pulled off Metropolis just fine. I think there is a desire for Venu, or at least something on that corner, so he'll definitely get something built, even if the final project isn't quite as grand as the initial renderings.
  • Dustin, Venu was never announced as being a shopping mall. It's a large mixed-use project with retail space. The tenants announced here don't sound bad at all. It will be great to have a Whole Foods, an another bookstore on the Northside is by no means a bad addition. Carson Pirie Scott is a nice department store--much better than a Macy's.

    Also, Dustin, I'm not sure if you're aware but the Fashion Mall has announced an expansion to attract at least 20 new tenants. No tenants have been announced but Simon did say they would try to attract business that will add to the high-end flavor of the mall.

    What's more, the Fashion Mall is already constructing a new Nordstroms. Very few cities in the US have one Nordstroms, and even fewer have two, and now Indy will be one of those cities. H&M is also opening a second Indy location in the new Castleton Mall expansion. Although H&M is not Gucci, it is still an exclusive retailer that can't be found in every mall in every city like the Gap.

    High-end shopping slowly is becoming more of a reality in Indianapolis. We can't expect it to ever be like Chicago's shopping offerings, but there is still a fair amount of wealth in this city (especially the Northside) to attract more exclusive retailers.
  • Northeast, I'm not sure there's another way to read the story or the words of the disgruntled ex-partner. Every over-leveraged business uses OPM, especially the interest-free kind provided by suppliers and contractors. But when it gets in the public record as liens and lawsuits, lenders are going to get nervous and turn off the cash spigots. Leverage works just as spectacularly in reverse, but much faster.
  • i read two paragraphs of ibj's story on mr. white and stopped. i was disturbed, but i wasn't sure who to be more disturbed with, mr. white or ibj. i'm leaning towards ibj because the tone and the info provided seemed tabloidish, it seemed more connected with mr. smith's personal conduct than with the performance of his company. i think venu would be an awesome project and would love to see it happen. i believe it would be a catalyst for further projects of this type in indianapolis. lets not forget, premier has several developments under construction, this means they got the financing. this implies some smart people like the company's vision.
  • I'm more interested in SODO. I couldnt care less if this goes up or not
  • botan,
    It's Mr. White, not Mr. Smith. Perhaps you should read past the first two grafs.
  • Dustin.....Burberry, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, D&G, Armani Exchange???? This IS Indy we're talking about, not Charlotte, NC!
  • oh, i'm so sorry, i had mr. white and then said smith, oops my bad. you got me, however did you get much more than that or was i right on target? usually when someone points out errors in spelling, grammar or, oops the wrong name it usually means its the only thing they can find fault with.
  • I believe Indianapolis has sufficient wealth and income to support a significantly higher end retail base than it has. Money isn't the reason it isn't around today. The reasons are a lack of a culture of high end consumption and a general lack of connoisseurship. Few Indianapolis residents are even aware of the truly high end brands in many categories.
  • I agree Urbanophile. Its sad that places like San Antonio, Nashville & Charlotte are getting high end stores, while Indy is getting huddle houses and walmarts...
  • FINALLY Urbanophile is the one I am on the complete same page with. He sees my point fully. As for some of you who smacked me in the face with their form of Indy's reality in terms of monetary wealth and spending power, I see the point you stressed; but at the same time, just like Urbanophile said.... Indy lacks a culture of high end consumption and a general lack of connoisseurship.

    Nancy, yes I may be dreaming, but a Gucci accessory store, D&G store (a lower price point of the Dolce & Gabbana brand), and an Armani Exchange... COME ON... that store is affordable. Take a look at the ugly, redundant, and boring Abercrombie and American Eagle Outfitters price points... especially Abercrombie.

    As for having another Nordstrom in Indianapolis, ok... I think it's okay... it's just too over saturated to me. I would have appreciated the concept of diverse offerings. A Bloomingdale's couldn't even hurt. Nordstrom is its direct competitor. Bloomingdale's doesn't have to directly compete with Saks, since Saks has a higher end catalog of offerings, while Bloomingdale's can cater to the mid-range to upper mid-range to lower upper-end customer, a tad bit above the Macy's bracket.

    And no, I did not think Venu was going to be just another mall I assumed it was going to be another high profile retail/restaurant destination catering to the city of Indianapolis for anyone who is looking for a higher-end experience not found anywhere else, except downtown. I just think it's a complete joke to me the way this Venu was publicized as a big deal. Until in the end... finding out about the actual type of retailers being there... I immediately thought... Great, it's just another Clay Terrace, what a snooze. Even now, I find Clay Terrace boring. It is just a collection of the sameness you'd find in an enclose mall, only it has roundabout driveways... woopteedoo... yay.
  • Nancy, not only do San Antonio, Charlotte and Nashville ALL have Wal-Marts and Huddle Houses (or the equivalent) of their own, Indianapolis has a higher per capita inome than all three of those cities PLUS lower cost of living. It is only a matter of time before we see the higher end retail that these cities are enjoying......
  • needs more IKEA.
  • why do you all want high end retail???? I can't stand those kind of stores. If anything...I would love to see local, independent stores, though I know you most likely will not see this at Venu. However, I think Venu is going to be a great place, regardless of what stores go in there. They have a hired a great architect and the public spaces in the project sound great enough to outweigh some of the stores anyway. REI and Whole Foods both would be great additions though.
  • 1) Bloomingdale's hasn't really opened any new stores in the past 5 years unless it is in a super high-end market (i.e LA, DC, Boston) on one of the coasts. They wouldn't dream of opening in the Midwest. It is unrealistic to see them here.

    2) Just look at the number of high-income households in Indy versus other markets with the stores you want. Indy is on the low end of markets with high end, and that is what retailers look at...particularly Needless Markup. If Sak's was doing great numbers, then they might consider.

    3) Nashville doesn't even have a Nordstrom. No high end departments stores. They just recently got a Tiffany.

    4) Given the size of our market, we are doing pretty well. Williams-Sonoma Home for instance is a very high-end store in very few markets.

    5) Hope we get Armani Exchange soon.
  • I could certainly live without an Armani Exchange.

    There's a real question as to whether attracting high end stores or developing the type fo consumption culture I mentioned is even desireable. The real appeal of Indianapolis is in the high quality of life it offers to people who aren't multi-millionaires. If you are truly loaded, you can fly to NYC on your private jet to go shopping anytime you want. I think there is no doubt that the quality of retail on offer to people of middle class incomes has dramatically improved in Indianapolis in the last 10-15 years.

    The Saks store is a great example of why these other stores aren't likely to be forthcoming. As I've said many times. Their men's collection is extremely weak. The best suit they sell is Canali, the shoe selection is abominable, and their best fashion lables are ones like Theory and Prada, there there is a small selection of those at that. It is the lowest end merchandise mix I've ever seen in a Saks store and it is difficult to believe that it is even the same chain as, say, the Saks Men's Store on Michigan Ave.

    Until Indianapolis can supporting having higher end brands carried at Saks, there's little chance of boutiques opening. Having said that, I'm a dude, so the women's situation might be different. I am happy to see that Saks carries a large selection of Kiehl's products, for example, and they appear to have a large handbag selection, though I haven't reviewed it in any detail.

    The other factor working against Indy is the fact that these brands do not want mass distribution. They want a limited number of stores in very selective cities and Indianapolis does not fit with their brand image. There used to be a Barney's in suburban Detroit, but even though it was reported to be solidly profitable, it was closed.

    Typically, when a formerly exclusive brand reaches Indy, it is less an indication that Indy has reached the next plane than that those brands are simply expanding their way into cities of Indy's size tier. Tiffany's is a case in point.
  • Cory, regardless of what botan says, the background check nature of the IBJ article is helpful in determining how real the developer is. Let's face it, the banks and prospective equity partners would do the same kind of due diligence (if they were smart).

    It may not be pretty, but it has the advantage of being true.
  • I am reading lots of good analysis of retail but isn't it funny that the same group who cries, More chains! when it comes to restaurants, begs for it in fashion?

    Indy might be the kind of town that doesn't want to flaunt conspicuous consumption. Lots of locals who have really deep pockets prefer to fly under the radar. I recognize the high end brands, but when I see my friends draped in it, I wonder why they don't just dangle their check book balance over their shoulder?

    botan, did you just start reading the IBJ or is this your first friend that they have written about? That's why I've been reading the IBJ for what? 25 years? It is the local business Enquirer. The IBJ will stick it's neck out and sling a little mud.

    Hey, if you don't want people to say it about you, don't behave that way.
  • cranky, you bring up a good point that Indy despite being a chain retail dominate market, can't attract high end chains.

    In most cities the truly hip stores are the independent boutiques. For men's clothing, places like Hejfina in Chicago, Context Clothing in Madison Wisconsin, or Brigade Clothing in Cleveland carry many of the truly great specialty brands.

    Is there anyplace in Indianapolis one can purchase a even basic high-quality jean like Ernest Sewn or Nudie? I have never come across one.
  • This thread is making me really uneasy. I don't need my suit to say Armani on it to close a deal, and I certainly don't need it on my way to complete financial independence. Quite a few of you on here need to read The Millionaire Next Door. Leave the flash trash to the coasts, in the meantime, people like me will continue to build the financial strength of our fine city. The name on your suit doesn't matter, results matter.

    That said, I'm not against the high-end retailers being here, it doesn't really hurt anything, it's just ridiculous that a topic on a fine high density re-development project has turned into a thread about high end fashion again. Stick to the real topic.

    On that note, I think Premier can pull it off. All developers have unhappy contractors. From custom residential, to commercial and industrial. Leins are filed ALL of the time. Developers constantly battle cash flow problems, especially when they are GROWING their business. The successful developers are those that can best manage those relationships, but I doubt there are many developers you can do a story on that have had ZERO contractor complaints. It's a part of the industry, and a way to tap into additional monies like the interest payments mentioned in the story. There are a lot of people I don't like personally because of their choices outside of work, but that doesn't make them bad at their job. Just something to think about....
  • Urbanofile -
    Frankie's tends to carry a good selection of higher end, hard to find denim........
  • Urbanophile, I am sure you remember a store on Mass Ave called Splurge. I knew the owners of the store and I worked there as well. The owners had a bright idea and they wanted to give the city what it was lacking. Coming from New York, they wanted to bring the concept of a unique specialty store carrying hard to find brands, especially fashionable brands only sold in larger cities. They carried designers heard of but not accesible except in Chicago, New York, LA or whatever other cool city had it. Only after two years, the owners decided their business/presence in Indianapolis, ESPECIALLY downtown, wasn't needed/wanted anymore. People stopped shopping at the store, because of the mass growth of other unique specialty stores on the north side (Frankeys, Indigo Nation, etc..), customers stopped going downtown. So it's all in the mindset of the people of Indy. Truthfully speaking, Indy will never amass into a city with an understanding of character uniqueness. This is why I find Indy to be a complete joke a lot of times when it comes to the lack of things most larger or similar cities already have. Mass transit, more diversity in food establishments, retail.

    Off subject though, but I really love the toy store on Mass Avenue. I love the owner's concept, she is VERY intelligent. I admire her ambition of setting her store apart from the mass appeal of a toy store.
  • wow JoBu is pissed because there are number of people discussing about a topic he's uncomfortable with. Why don't you take the comments you've suggested to me in the past and use it to your advantage JoBu? I hope you remember, but I can refresh your memory... If you have nothing positive to say, then get out. :)
  • Merely stating that the topic is about the developer and whether or not the project will get off the ground, not the fashion scene in Indy. I hardly see how that was a blanket negative? In fact, other than pointing out that we were off topic and that fashion shouldn't be a priority, the article is quite positive. I even think Venu has a chance.

    I'm sorry, but narcisim in the avenue of fashion just seems ridiculous to me. But to each his own and I will refrain from further disagreements on that social value, since that in itself is off topic.

    I do take offense to the culture bashing that is always on here though. Indy is full of culture. Sorry if it's not fashion based, but fashion isn't what Indy is about, and I'm ok with that. GO VENU!!!
  • I'm in agreement with Urbanophile's comments on this blog. Carson, Pirie, Scott - please! Their store in Circle Centre is not nearly as good as Parisian. I too was hoping for a Neiman Marcus or at least Bloomingdales in this Venu project. And IBJ's article on the developer makes me nervous, wondering if the project will ever materialize. And yes, the Saks is the lowest end Saks I've seen, especially the mens department. It's a shame. I have thought maybe it's because they just had the amount of space Jacobson's had and they weren't building their own space. I guess we'll never know. And why another Westin hotel? Isn't that going at the new airport. Why not shoot for a Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton? I would think that location would support a boutique hotel like those.
  • The original hotel rumor was that the hotel would be a W, which could still happen if they get to phase two where the fourth anchor and hotel are proposed.
  • My points exactly Jim B!!! It's the mentality of Indy developers. Everything has to be the same or of uniform reasons.

    And JoBu, I am in the fashion industry. I have a degree in design. I think you are completely clueless on the aspect of the city lacking plenty in the fashion aspect. The Art Insitute of Indianapolis offers a fashion design program. When Indianapolis was considered to have that program, it merely points out that Indianapolis has an interest in fashion. People of Indiana/Indianapolis are obviously searching for fashion. This is the whole criteria I am pointing out, about Indianapolis not diversifying the concept of fashion. Every day, there is fashion around you. The clothes you wear on your back was inspired by couture designers five years ago. You show nothing but an ignorant attitude towards it. But that's ok, you are just an example of the majority of uneducated people of Indy who don't get it. I personally think the northside/northeast corridor can support more fashion retailers. When it comes to Greenwood, Avon, or any other area of the city, fashion isn't even considered. A trend is considered, the majority of people who follow a trend, rather than understand the purpose of displaying themselves as profound individuals. This is why I think downtown Indianapolis and the Northeast side, can support the idealism of fashion where one can appreciate more choices, rather than being stuck in the uniformity of everything.

    Yes, Chicago is a mega city, but Chicago should be considered a role model for Indianapolis. Not Cincy. Not St. Louis. If Indianapolis is continuing to grow the way it is, I don't see why the city can't freaking WAKE UP and think much further ahead?

    Mass transit, downtown living (more apartments, more individualism), fashion, food... bla bla bla. You get the idea.
  • Dust, I love you man, I appreciate that you keep the debate alive day in and day out. You keep me on my toes. I don't disagree that fashion, downtown living, food, etc. enhance the City of Indianapolis. I also am all for mass transit options and dense development, but I don't think calling me 'uneducated' because I don't place a priority on NAME BRAND fashions is entirely fair. Maybe I am ignorant of the high end fashion culture that does exist here, albeit small, but I am certainly not uneducated, nor do I lack individualism.

    What is uneducated about dressing well without a name brand, as I like to think that I do? It's funny, the money I save on not purchasing name brand clothing, and living in the City of Indianapolis is more than likely going to not only pay my daughter's way through college, but it will provide for a hefty downpayment when I upgrade my McMansion. LOL.

    Anyway, this is SO off topic, which was my beef to begin with. Can't we just talk about the story and quit complaining about the selection of fashion retailers and the surplus of chain restaurants in this town??? You have some great ideas, we just don't always see eye to eye. Looking forward to future topics. Happy Holidays.
  • Name brands are name brands. What you are wearing has a name brand JoBu. I am not saying you or anyone has to wear a name brand that requires your two month's pay. I was merely pointing out that the city is lacking in its entirety of fashion in general. I love H&M, because of their budget friendly yet fashionable clothing. I am not saying I strictly love the Pradas, John Varvatos, Dolce & Gabbanas, Hugo Boss, Versace, or any other high profile designer label. I am only pointing out that the city somehow has a world wide recognition when it comes to sporting events as well as the appreciation for the arts community, but at the same time, it should still try to gain the cosmopolitan feel one would really like to have. I'm a former Indy resident. Before I moved to Indianapolis to live downtown, I really wanted to live in the big city. Coming from a small town, I wanted the experience. I wanted to try Indy first, because I knew it wasn't overwhelming as Chicago or New York, so I gave it a try. After a couple years, I loved it... everything about living downtown. But after I moved out of the city, to the west coast, I look back on the good days I had in Indy. This was only two years ago when I moved out. Even today, Indy to me... bores me. When I do go back to visit, I enjoy my time, but at the same time, I have ideas in my head. Indy just doesn't fascinate me so much anymore like it used to.
  • Dustin, it's funny that I also recently (within the past three years) moved to the west coast after growing up in Indiana and then living in downtown for a few years before I left. Unlike you, however, my appreciation for Indianapolis, especially the downtown, has INCREASED since my departure. I know many people who have moved from Indianapolis for whatever reason to cities around the country and the vast majority of them feel very differently from the way you feel.

    When I hear comments like yours, I usually associate them with people who have never even really been OUT of the city. Of course, Indy is no Los Angeles, Chicago or New York but then if people really wanted to live in those places then they would.
  • Ok Marshall
  • I see nothing wrong with these stores. Folks, all the upscale boutiques will be locating in the Fashion Mall expansion. Thats where we will see the Burberrys & Louis Vuittons.
  • Dustin obviously has some severe mental illnesses. Just dont give him the time of day...

    Anyway, now would be a good time for some good new updates on some old proposals or construction projects!
  • boring.......How much more retail can that area handle. I just hope they come up woth some unique restaurants.
  • Dustin are you employed? Just a question as I notice you post all day, every day...
  • just a question, to answer your just a question question:

    Yes I am employed. What difference does it make if one is employed or unemployed? You possibly aren't. You are on the computer during business hours, therefore, you probably have no life. Do you live with mommy? Does she know you're on the Internet? I think she has some cookies and milk ready for you, you best be stepping off the scary world of the Internet before she finds out.

    This is just to show how ignorant I am being just like you with the unwarranted just a question question. Have a great day! :)
  • I really didn't mean that to be offensive...but dang somehow I hit a sore spot...
  • just a question, you are so silly and cute. You didn't hit a sore spot. You simply asked for the same thing in return.

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