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Pedcor Development plans $14 million design center: Carmel retail facility aimed at builders, homeowners

May 22, 2006

You can add a massive retail home design and decor retail center to Pedcor Development Co.'s lengthy project list in Carmel's downtown district.

Pedcor, which is responsible for much of the development going on in downtown Carmel these days, is expected to break ground this summer on a $14 million Indiana Design Center, an 85,000-square-foot, two-story, one-stop shopping spot for homeowners and builders.

An assortment of 20 to 25 retailers that sell everything from bathroom faucets to antiques is expected to occupy the center, said Bruce Cordingley, president of Pedcor. It will give shoppers one place to go for just about everything to do with building, designing and decorating their homes.

"It's state of the industry," Cordingley said.

The center will be built on the west side of Range Line Road, south of Main Street between First and Third streets.

The land was most recently home to a closed gas station, vacant bakery and a liquor store. Clearing of those buildings is expected to be completed in the next couple of weeks. The Design Center's opening is slated for the end of next year.

The Design Center will sit within Carmel's City Center, also being developed by Pedcor. It will be designed using the federal style of architecture, which is identified by a low-pitched roof, a smooth façade, delicate columns and moldings, and Palladian windows, often with an arched middle section.

In addition, there will be a parking structure with 112 underground spaces and 64 surface spaces.

And as the center goes up, Pedcor will go out and recruit tenants.

"We expect to attract business from all over," Cordingley said.

Pedcor believes the multitenant center will offer several advantages over a standalone building or traditional retail mall.

"Individually, a lot of people involved in the home center can't really make as big of a splash as they need to," said Bill French, a veteran retail broker with Colliers Turley Martin Tucker in Indianapolis. "But being involved in the center, you have a multitude of independent operators that can come together, pool advertising and have a very strong and effective advertising campaign."

Combining many businesses under one roof will provide a positive synergistic effect, French said.

And putting the Design Center in Carmel is a brilliant move, French said. Not only are the incomes growing along with the rest of the population in Hamilton County, but Carmel itself is booming with renovation, much by Pedcor.

Pedcor's City Center project will include shops and restaurants, an outdoor amphitheater, an ice-skating rink, a hotel and an $80 million performing arts center. The City Center is adjacent to the Carmel Arts and Design District, which is in the middle of Old Town Carmel.

So Pedcor's Design Center seems to fit right in.

But are Cordingley's plans a bit too ambitious?

"It seems that 85,000 square feet is quite aggressive for that concept in terms of size," said Mark Perlstein, partner with Carmel-based The Linder Co.

Retailing can be challenging in very large buildings, especially those that are two stories, because usually the first floor gets more exposure than the second floor, Perlstein said.

It might also be challenging for retailers to identify who the customers will be and how much they will spend before deciding if they want to take up residence there.

And some retailers that already have their own cabinet, carpet or other showrooms might not want to vacate their current place of business to move there, said Perlstein, who also thinks a spot more easily accessible to an interstate might have been a better choice.

But Cordingley thinks his idea is unique enough to work.

While more and more home builders are creating their own design centers, they're builder-specific. Estridge Homes, for example, has Estridge Home Experience in Clay Terrace, an 8,000-square-foot boutique of home products.

Estridge's center is a place where people building Estridge homes can go to pick their carpet, wall coverings and kitchen cabinets.

Pedcor's Design Center will not be geared toward any particular builder. In fact, not only will consumers shop at the center, but builders from all aspects of the trade are likely to visit, get ideas and meet with vendors that can complement their business.

And Chicago-based The Merchandise Mart Design Center has a four-story showroom of residential housing furnishings. With locations in Los Angeles, Boston and other large cities, The Merchandise Mart is geared for wholesalers, with occasional special events that allow consumers to buy.

Cordingley thinks Indiana is ready for such a concept, and he says he's shopped around and visited other states enough to know.

"I've seen what works and what doesn't," he said. "Consumers from all over central Indiana will come here."
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