Star’s search for space includes a few new entries

July 10, 2013
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CSX building 225pxA couple of new locations have emerged in the sweepstakes to land the operations of the Indianapolis Star, now that the newspaper’s search for new office space is getting more serious. Downtown real estate brokers say the Star is exploring space within what’s known as the CSX Building at the southwest corner of Pennsylvania and Georgia streets across from Bankers Life Fieldhouse. At one time, a police museum had been slated to occupy the building, and most recently, the first floor morphed into a temporary bar during Super Bowl festivities last year. More surprising is talk that the state’s largest daily is considering taking a portion of the space vacated by Nordstrom within Circle Centre mall. Mall manager Simon Property Group Inc. has had no luck filling it since the anchor left two years ago. The other two options that keep getting bandied about are space within BMO Plaza and Regions Tower. Meanwhile, The Whitsett Group, the buyer of the Star’s 190,000-square-foot building at 307 N. Pennsylvania St. and its 500-space parking garage, plans to start construction by the end of the year on a building on the Star’s property, at the corner of Delaware and New York streets, principal Joe Whitsett said. Whitsett’s plans call for up to 500 apartments in three buildings and a bit of retail space that might attract a bank branch or restaurant.

UPDATE: Star Publisher Karen Crotchfelt says the newspaper is negotiating with Simon to take a portion of the Nordstrom space. Here's our story.

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  • No to Nordstrom!
    I say no to the Nordstrom place. It would be a shame to take up such prime retail space with an office setting. the CSX building seems like a very good fit.
  • Interesting
    Although the former Nordstrom site is an interesting choice, I would hate to see such an obviously dedicated retail location be converted to office use. That site deserves to be retail of some sort even if the space needs a major remodeling/reconfiguration to accommodate multiple smaller tenants. BMO, Regions, or CSX are the more logical locations.
  • Not Nordstrom
    I totally agree about the Nordstrom location. This definitely needs to be retail/restaurant space. More activity is needed along Georgia St. The CSX site is such an eyesore. This building has great potential. I thought loft apartments could be a good use for this. Does anyone know the status of Penn Centre?
  • No to Nordstrom
    I agree with the no to Nordstrom comment. That space should remain retail. Anthony, is there any action at all, retail-wise on that space? As long as it sits empty, Georgia Street is going to remain a wasteland. Has anybody thought of Dillard's going in there? They are a good store, the closest is in Louisville that I know of.
  • Nordstrom space
    I believe Simon wants to break up the space for use by more than one tenant but I am not aware of any serious prospects. Thanks for reading.
  • Simon Property
    What a joke Simon Property has become. In their home city they cannot fill a premier spot within a few miles of big spending Carmel. If I were the powers that be, I would never hand those clowns another tax break. What a joke.
  • Uggh!
    I would be SO disappointed to see them go into any part of the Nordstrom Space. They need to redevelop that corner as indoor / outdoor space with another entrance into the mall surrounded with retail / dining. The CSX space is the best option I've heard of for The Star.
  • Circle Centre off limits
    The placement of an office user in the Nordstrom space would be a deathknell for the mall. Circle Centre should not be allowed to become the next Columbus City Center. While I understand Simon doesn't own the mall, just manages it, there name is still on the doors and associated by all to be related to Circle Centre. As they got a great deal to build their corporate headquarters two blocks away, you would think there would be some desire to make this mall a shining example of what they can do rather than putting every new store to Indianapolis at the Fashion Mall. I agree with the rest of the posts that Gannett locating here should not be an option and the mall owners should say as much. Yes, the Nordstrom space needs to be broken up and leased to multiple tenants to bring life back to Meridian Street. And yes, there should be a new mall entrance built on the south end of the property since Harry and Izzy's now occupies what was once an exterior entrance. For the years prior to the opening of the northside Nordstrom's we were told the sales per square foot were very good for the chain at that location, so with all the new rooftops and apartments built downtown since then, there should be some argument that another retailer makes sense here. I recognizer it can't be as big as Nordstrom's was, but it should be new to the market or at least a store desired by those who live and work downtown. It should not be an office or insitution using the space.
    • Simon
      I agree, Simon has become an embarrasment to Indy with what they have done with Circle Centre and how they let Lafayatte, Eastgate and Washington Malls rot.
    • Make Them Relevant
      Wouldn't it be interesting if they could make the Star relevant for today's consumer again by making their location an interactive location for consumers? News kiosks and such. That might make them a fun tenant for the Circle Centre space. Lord knows their current paper business model is floundering and when they started charging for their online version I just dumped their bookmark from my computer all together.
    • No Circle Centre
      I could not agree more wholeheartedly to R Jones’ post. You hit the nail right on the head, especially the comment regarding the Fashion Mall! I live and work downtown and the long term vacancy of the Nordstrom space has been quite detrimental to what was once a very lively section of Meridian St. Yes, in today’s retail environment leasing 210,000 square feet of space to a single tenant is going to be extraordinarily difficult if not impossible. Breaking it up into two or three manageable, yet substantial, anchor-sized spaces to create the same regional draw Nordstrom did in 1995 is certainly doable. Twenty years ago when downtown was still relatively unpopulated and sparse, Circle Centre did something amazing in igniting a spark that has led to the downtown we have today. If Nordstrom worked well back then, finding an analogous replacement today should be simple. I am amazed by how many students and young professionals continue to pour into downtown and occupy new apartment space within months of it going on the market. There is a huge urban-oriented population that Simon could surely leverage for some great retail tenants in the Nordstrom space. I even took the liberty of writing a lengthy letter to their corporate headquarters about this very matter. I’ve yet to receive a reply. The CSX building is a logical choice for the Indy Star given its proximity to major sporting and event venues and also seems to be appropriately sized for their needs. Circle Centre should not even be on the radar. PS – For those interested, there is also a great editorial on Urban Indy regarding the Nordstrom space: http://www.urbanindy.com/2013/05/27/the-nordstrom-brainstorm-its-time-for-a-serious-conversation/
    • Bring on the new stores!
      Might I suggest a couple great stores that would cater to those live and work downtown: Target...one stop shop for groceries, etc. for downtown dwellers as well as somewhere for those of us who work downtown to do some shopping while on our lunch - like grab school supplies - so we don't have to crowd the suburban stores on the weekends. IKEA...Hello, the closest one is around 2 hours away! Dwellers can decorate their new downtown digs and everyone doesn't have to drive 2 hours to do business in another state. Add a nice place to eat, and I think it's a winner!
    • agree not the mall
      Indy Star would be a negative drag on the Mall, they barely maintain and/or care about their block they have owned for multiple decades, it represents their long term attitude on property management. Simon started killing the Mall when they let Nordstrom open in Keystone @ the Crossing.
    • Indystar Negotiating with Simon
      Per IndyStar website http://www.indystar.com/article/20130710/BUSINESS/307100108/ Sounds like a done deal.
    • Add my vote...
      ...to those who think the Star (or any office use) for that space would be a terrible thing for the mall, and a terrible thing for downtown. Very disappointed in Simon, as the previous posted note, which can't fill prime space in a mall blocks from its headquarters. Making me re-think our plans to move downtown.
    • Love the Nordstrom idea!
      I would absolutely love to see IndyStar take the entire Nordstrom property. That is the best use of the facility. My only concern is that the IndyStar employees would not have enough surface parking. This could be alleviated by demolishing several of the surrounding buildings and installing a gravel lot.
      • What a Waste
        The Nordy space should have all high-draw restaurants (like Cheesecake Factory)...ones that would be great for tourists...on the first floor with lots of windows facing georgia. Floor 2 should be a CB2. That furniture store caters to apartment dwellers. Win win. And finally on 3rd floor...another Apple Store. The Keystone store is always packed, so this market can easily support another store. Bottom line, Simon simply doesn't care about this mall. Simon's the WORLD'S largest mall developer and manager. Do you really think a business with that much clout and leverage couldn't put top tenants in that mall? If they cared that spot would have been filled a few months after Nordys departed.
        • Downtown violence
          Yeah but don't forget that it becomes absolutely horrifying around here during Black Expo / summer in general. Until they fix the problem of downtown's homeless epidemic, disgusting sidewalks, and random violence next to upscale restaurants, I don't expect anymore "nice" tenants.
        • Grow up
          You people honestly think Simon and the City have not been searching for a replacement retail tenant for the past 2 years? Grow up and start reading the newspaper! This use is far better than letting it sit vacant and it brings over 600 new employees to this area, which will help support the rest of the mall. Maybe those of you who are complaining about the use should have spent more money at Nordstrom when they were here!
        • Armchair Leasing
          I didn't realize that there are so many retail/leasing experts out there. I bet the brass at Simon are wishing they had all of you guys on their payroll. Because obviously you all know MUCH more about successfully leasing retail space than the folks at Simon. C'mon, people! Empty/vacant spaces don't make any money...signing leases and filling up empty spaces DOES make money. A dash of common sense will tell you that Simon has been trying to lease this space any way they can (single large user, multiple smaller users, now an office user). The fact that its still empty...that tells me more about the space & market conditions surrounding the mall than it tells me about Simon and their leasing efforts. And even though they are a retail giant, they can't FORCE a tenant to come here. If they could do that, they'd have the best business model on the planet. If CB2, Apple, etc. are such perfect fits for this space, then why aren't they under construction right now? Do you think Simon never bothered to call/ask them? If that's the case, then you guys should just send your proposals directly to CB2 or Apple's HQ. Based on your obvious leasing expertise, the deal should be inked before long. I know I can't wait to see/hear about them opening up soon. Sheesh...
          • I am with the Joe's
            To both of the Joe's, well said. From a distance, it is easy to say Simon is making a mistake. From a distance, it is easy to say The Star is making a mistake. The facts remain...the Star has spent a long time evaluating the market and working to identify a space that serves their business today, and into the future. Simon has spent the past two years chasing retailers....the market has spoken. This is a good fit for both Simon, the Star, and quite frankly downtown. The market has spoken....
          • News truck
            I hear The Star has already abandoned the Nordstrom space in favor of creating an Indianapolis Star newsroom truck. Fresh, hot news created by reporters crammed in a box truck, served up live to consumers on the sidewalk with a side order of op/eds!
          • Ugh!!!
            I think this is a bad deal all the way around - for Circle Centre, for the city and for downtown. But I have one question. Does anyone know if the plan is for the Star to take the entire Nordie space? That would be the worst situation, in my opinion. Couldn't part of it, street level for example, still be used for retail and/or restaurant space? At least that would bring pedestrian traffic to the area, and could also open up another mall entrance, which is badly needed.
          • To the Joe's
            It's people willing to settle for "anything is better than nothing", like yourselves, that will continue to hold progress down. As the residential base continues to grow downwtown, so, too, will the need for retail. It just makes no sense to lock up a large chunk of mall space for an office use. Yes, maybe the concept of a traditional enclosed mall is dying, but THIS mall is not poorly performing and is not on the doorstep of failure. Patience is what is needed. And The Star would be a better fit with the CSX building. And Joe, just because some of us would prefer a retail use over an office use doesn't mean that we pretend to be leasing experts any more than your pretend to be an expert on the "space and market conditions surrounding the mall". Sheesh....
          • Indy's Dying Downtown
            Indy's "growing residential downtown population" is further evidence of the death of its downtown. Downtowns are for commercial space, not residential living. Downtown residential living only emerges when no higher valued use wants the space. Indy's downtown will never house a substantial residential population necessary to support a neighborhood mall, so relying on downtowners to prop up Circle Center Mall is destined for failure. Indy's downtown is forever doomed because there's no way to get there. I told Hudnut this, 20 years ago. He denied the idea, but I was right, then, as I'm right, now. Until you can get from Carmel to Downtown without stoplights, Carmel and the North Side will avoid Downtown. Keystone Avenue is a dump. Destroy it and make it a highway from I-70 to 96th Street, where it will connect with Carmel's wonderful reconstruction of the street, taking care to ensure that a huge cloverleaf connects it to 465. Even then, what does downtown have that we can't get in Carmel? Further, if all these downtowners find living next to multi-story office buildings perfectly acceptable, it seems they've lost all ability to object to multi-story office buildings being erected near other residential areas. Cities such as Indy will find their greatest growth around their beltways.
          • Huh?
            So Slim, if we are to accept your theory, then your beloved Carmel and it's City Center and all the surrounding urban-style residential and mixed use residential development has no higher value? Plus every other city which offers living in an urban environment obviously has gotten it all wrong too. Without the growth of Indianapolis throughout the last century the Carmel of today wouldn't exist. I have no quarrel with people choosing to live in Carmel and certainly understand your desire to live there as it is a very nice community, but that doesn't make the voices of those of us who choose to live downtown or in urban areas any less important than yours. The majority of the posts speaking up about this proposal are simply expressing frustration with the transition of retail space to office use. We are not arguing that the mall would be supported solely by downtown residences, but combined with downtown workers, conventions and downtown visitors we feel a retail use, albeit smaller in scale to the Nordstrom space is feasible. No, we are not experts on leasing and haven't claimed to be, we are just frustrated with this proposal. This whole Indy Star concept may work out and while I'm not crazy about the idea, I hope it does draw the business they seem to think it will. With respect to Mayor Hudnut ignoring your comments, I am hoping he was looking out for the hundreds of people who live along Keystone Avenue from I-70 and north, as I am sure they didn't then, or do they now, want a highway running through their front yards. There are plenty of map services on line that will show you how to take your soon-to-be limited access-status US 31 to I-465 south to I-70 west and downtown in 30 minutes or less with no stoplights; problem solved!
            • Sloppy Reasoning
              R Jones: Your comment fails, as you conflate the terms "downtown" and "urban living." Lots of places can be "urban," but a city only gets one "downtown." Note that when I spoke to Hudnut, he informed me that the original plan was for Binford to be I-69 all the way to downtown, and he informed me that the highways in downtown had little spurs (since removed) hanging off them to accommodate I-69. At the time, my plan was to reinstate the Binford I-69 plan. With Carmel since taking the lead with Keystone, turning the rest of the street to Interstate grade now makes the most sense, and Keystone provides more direct North-South access. As for what the people living on Keystone may want, it's presumably the same thing desired by all people who are at risk of being displaced by public works projects. There's nothing new, novel, special about the residents on Keystone. If you want your beloved downtown to survive without perpetual taxpayer assistance, build a highway to your customers.
            • Thanks
              Thanks for the vocabulary lesson Slim, but you're splitting hairs with my use of the terms downtown and urban living. With respect to turning Keystone into a limited access highway; yes, Carmel took the lead on spending $130-140 million taking what was essentially 3-3.5 miles of a state highway with six stoplights and turning it into a limited access parkway. I guess your proposal would only set us back about $400-500 million as the entire stretch of Keystone from I-70 to 96th Street is and has been lined with developments (both commercial and residential) for decades. I think I will pass on this opportunity to shave 10 minutes off your soon-to-be stoplight free drive from Carmel to downtown Indy via 31/465/70. Happy travels.

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