CSO Architects plans new HQ in former Bally Total Fitness

July 7, 2010
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CSO ArchitectsLocally based CSO Architects Inc. is working on plans to remodel a former Bally Total Fitness location behind the Fashion Mall at Keystone into its new headquarters. The 24,000-square-foot former fitness facility at 8831 Keystone Crossing is vacant and falling into disrepair, according to CSO's application for a tax abatement on the $1.8 million project. CSO bought the building and is working on plans for a sustainable renovation with LEED certification. If approved, the 10-year abatement would save the company about $56,000 in property taxes, roughly the same amount in additional taxes the company would pay for its planned improvements to the property. As part of the application, the firm pledged to create 10 new jobs and retain 70. The company's current headquarters is in the Parkwood Crossing office complex at Interstate 465 and Meridian Street. CSO, which was founded in 1961, previously occupied space at Keystone at the Crossing for about 25 years before moving to Parkwood Crossing in 1999, managing partner James Schellinger said. “Given these economic times and the cost of real estate, we thought we could find an existing building where the cost could be very advantageous right now,” he said. The firm expects to have the renovation completed by February, when its lease expires at Parkwood Crossing.

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  • Congrats
    Congrats to CSO. Many wishes for continued success. This is a good move and will likely be a better facility for them as they are now property owners and not facility renters...
    I am happy to see they are pledging to create 10 more jobs...I just wonder how the current economic climate will support their intentions...
  • 10 jobs?
    You should ask them how many jobs they have eliminated already. And are the 10 created jobs saved in secreterial support, drafting or management?
  • 10 jobs...
    Probably around 30 in the last 1.5-2 years. In this economy and construction climate, firms should be happy to keep their doors open, period. The pledge to start ADDING jobs is a positive one, even if people like you want to put a negative spin on it. Chances are, if they eliminated jobs, it was because they needed to, not because they wanted to.
    Furthermore, it's not like there's too much going on in the city. Besides the JW Marriott (CSO Project) and the Convention Center (Ratio), what else is there? Sure, there's LOTS of stimulus-funded infrastructure work out there...but architects rarely do roads and bridges...
  • Plenty Going On
    "Not too much going on in the city"?! How about:

    New Wishard Hospital
    Riley Hospital Expansion
    Glick Eye Institute
    IU-Clarian Neurosciences Hub
    Methodist Hospital Bed Tower
    NCAA Headquarters Expansion
    Buckingham: Delaware/South/Virginia mixed-use
    Buckingham: 10th/Indiana apartments

    And several smaller projects. It's been a while since this much development has been proposed or under construction in the city.
    • Plenty Going on...in Healthcare
      Note: 5/8 you listed are healthcare projects.

      Also, "proposed" doesn't always (or often) equate to actual projects. There have been HUNDREDS of viable proposed projects in the city over the last few years...few of them have actually been realized.
      Regardless, the climate is still very difficult in Indy and environ. You can argue that there are proposals out there, but if you really want to argue that the architectural market is perfectly fine, there's lots of work, and that jobs shouldn't have been lost in architecture and the construction trades, you are SORELY mistaken.
      Unless most of the current proposals have mostly private funding, they will likely not happen. The currently mayor has shown very little interest in spending money on development beyond infrastructure. Furthermore, healthcare projects aren't exactly what this city needs...
    • Plenty Going on
      I will concede, however, that the architectural "climate" is better than it was, say, 6 months ago. There are still LOTS of current graduates who are out of jobs and will be so for the foreseeable future.
    • projects
      Well, you were trying to make it seem like the JW-M and the ICC expansion were being built and NOTHING else. I honestly don't know anything about the architecture market and I believe you that it's tough right now.

      But I could also go on and on with my list of projects (the ones I listed include 5/8 healthcare/research because those projects tend to be very large and I was looking to impress):

      Waverley Expansion
      The Marmon (Washington/East St)
      Trailside
      The Di Rimini
      iMOCA/Aparments in Fletcher Place
      Apartments at Indiana/Milburn

      A large portion of these are already under construction or are very likely to be built.
    • Market
      If you gave every firm in town one of those projects, that wouldn't be enough. Its a different think to be excited about the development going on and recognizing that the architecture industry does have enough of the big projects that support their previous staff sizes.

      It's not just a whim that most firms have laid off a big chunk of their staff. A friend of my who just graduated is the only student out of 24 who has a job.

      That's not trashing the city. I think its obvious that development is slow right now.
    • curious
      I'm very curious about this. Again, I have no knowledge of the market and I completely believe you guys that the architecture market is bad.

      But what, specifically, is different about right now than say, 2006? Given what appears to be a decent rate of mid-to-large scale proposals compared to pre-recession times, are too many projects not moving beyond concept + initial rendering? As you say, larger scale proposals are always coming and going, regardless of the times.

      Or is the problem more with smaller, less publicized projects (the meat and potatoes of architecture firms?) and those have really disappeared?
    • Architect Response
      CorrND: That is certainly a large part of the problem. While there are many projects that are trying to get legs, many succumb to lack of funding or local support.
      For instance, the trend of "referendums" in this state has really done the architectural community a great disservice. Several MAJOR school projects have gone to referendums. When these mega-$million projects do not pass (by slim margines, usually), it shelves these projects and people lose work/jobs. I know for a fact that the vote against the Perry-Meridian project last year was a large determining factor in CSO's decision to let a large number of workers go.
      Another issue is that many developers are looking for tax abatements and/or stimulus funding to get their projects moving. Many of these projects are stalled because this funding is not available, is deemed inappropriate, or is under consideration by the state.
      Many projects are stalled at the moment because private donations are down due to the economy. Most University work, esp. private schools are driven by private giving. When private giving tanks, so does new construction/renovation.
      However, the largest problem is that there just isn't enough work out there to insure the success of all the firms in the area. Whereas you may see a lot of developments going on, there just simply isn't enough to go around. And even so, with the economy being what it is, architects are being paid less per contract and often doing preliminary work gratis in the hopes that the project will take off.
      It is a VERY tough time for architects right now. Those of us who are still employed are lucky to have kept our jobs. We're not out of the woods yet, but there have been some signs of improvements, though it is still very fragile...
    • Other Architects' opinions...
      Cory, I'd be interested in hearing what other architects in the area (Jim Schellinger, CSO, Bill Browne, Ratio, Sanford Garner, A2SO4, etc) have to say about how the economy is affecting development in the city and environ. Is that something you would be able/interested to report on? I think it would give a good perspective on what is driving and/or holding up development in the Indy metro-area.
    • Lack or Projects, or Greed
      I have a few friends in the Interior Design side and Architectural side - while some of the projects and smaller projects have dwindled as IndyArchitech has said - I also know that a lot of firms when layoffs were happening were using that as a cover to just cut expenses to generate a larger return/margin. They had work, and actually enough work to now make remaining employees working harder, but a lot of it came down to the owners wanting to ensure a larger cash balance and greater cash flow and people were let go just because "it was the thing to do at the time." I know of this scenario in two local smaller firms. Not saying it happened everywhere, but just wanted to mention. Ironically - one of those firms I speak of, 6 months later, hired 2 brand new people (lower costs), even though there were no new projects. I think a lot of 'rebalancing' is going on within firms.
    • CSO Jobs
      CSO, over the years is notorious for massive layoffs. This job expansion means nothing to them. They will add jobs one month and eliminate them the next.
      • CSO Jobs
        exemployee54e35 is off on their analysis. CSO, similarly to most companies, hires when times are good and has to downsize when times are rough. Personal experience with the company has proved a genuine concern for their employees, and they don't ever just dismiss employees and kick them to the curb, but all companies experience fluctuations and CSO is no different. When times are good, CSO hires people which is a great thing. This process creates jobs when work is available, but this also means that if work isn't available jobs and employee count will have to be cut. All should be thankful for the fact that companies like CSO hire and give out jobs when they can.

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