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Property at busy crossroads finally attracts buyer

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A local real estate investor has taken control of a small retail site that had been for sale for at least three years at a busy north-side intersection.

Environmental and zoning issues had made the property at the southwest corner of Keystone Avenue and Kessler Boulevard difficult to sell, said Jeff Ream, who recently bought it.

The property, a 2,000-square-foot building on less than an acre of land, was the site of a Conoco Phillips gas station from the 1950s to the mid 1970s. Beginning in 1977, it housed Wine Art, a shop for wine-and beer-making hobbyists.

The building will soon house Bokay Florists, a flower shop that’s been in business in the city for 60 years. Co-owner Angela Kenley said her shop will move there from 54th Street and College Avenue. She’s shooting for an early October move—after the cinder-block building is painted green and adorned with black awnings and the shop’s logo, which features a hot-pink gerber daisy.

Kenley has had her eye on the high-visibility retail site for several years. The $400,000 asking price was too steep for her when she inquired three years ago. When she checked on it again in July, Ream had it under contract and was looking for a tenant.

“It’s a great corner. I’ve wanted to move there for years,” she said.

Kenley and Ream both became interested in the property because they are among the many motorists who drive through the intersection every day.

“I drive by all the time and wondered why no one had bought it,” said Ream, who said he’d seen a traffic study that estimated as many as 62,000 cars pass the property on Keystone every day.

“That doesn’t count the Kessler traffic,” said Bill McClain, the broker who had the property listed the last two years. Other brokers were involved before McClain but hadn’t been able to find a buyer.

McClain two years ago became the court-appointed listing agent for the property, which was tangled up in legal proceedings involving the Wine Art owner. McClain dropped the price that scared Kenley away three years ago. Ream paid cash, but only after getting a handle on the environmental and zoning issues that had scared away previous buyers.

He found out that the site comes with an insurance policy that pays for the remediation. Testing has been done and he’s waiting for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to tell him what needs to be done.

On the zoning front, Ream learned what other recent buyers in the area found out: His property and others in the immediate vicinity are zoned residential even though they have housed businesses for years.

Herman Brandt, president of Kesslerwood Civic League Inc., said Ream’s property and others on Keystone just north of Kessler have been commercial for the 40 years he’s lived in the neighborhood.

Kesslerwood covers the area from Keystone west to Evanston Avenue and from Kessler north to 61st Street. His group is supportive of plans for the florist shop on Ream’s property, which is just outside his group’s boundaries. Ream is one of three property owners who’ve applied for commercial zoning along Keystone in the last two years, Brandt said.

Ream’s rezoning request got initial approval from the city Aug. 26. The Metropolitan Development Commission is likely to sign off on the request at its Sept. 10 meeting, after which it will go to the City-County Council for final approval.

Mike Peoni, administrator for the Department of Metropolitan Development’s division of planning, said Ream and owners of some other properties along Keystone that are zoned residential but used for commercial purposes are opting to rezone their properties rather than seek variances. Variances are more restrictive and must be awarded every time a property’s use changes.  
 

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