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Noblesville mega-mall begins lining up retailers: Area brokers say space is likely to lease well

September 18, 2006

J.C. Penney, Best Buy and Bed Bath & Beyond plan to open stores in the $100 million open-air mall Simon Property Group Inc. and a partner are planning to build in Noblesville, retail brokers say.

In addition, Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Goodrich Quality Theaters Inc. is in preliminary talks to open a cinema in the project, owner Bob Goodrich confirmed.

Simon and another Indianapolis-based developer, Gershman Brown & Associates, announced plans for the nearly 1-million-square-foot Hamilton Towne Centre a year ago.

At the time, they hoped to begin construction this year and to open the development in the fall of 2007. However, because of delays by the city of Noblesville in lining up financing to relocate 146th Street, construction hasn't begun.

A few major retailers, including Penney, are still shooting for a fall 2007 opening. But the official opening is now planned for spring 2008.

Gershman Brown officials referred questions to Simon Property Group, whose spokesman did not return calls. However, the midyear retail market report prepared by the local office of St. Louis-based Colliers Turley Martin Tucker identifies Penney, Best Buy and Bed Bath & Beyond as tenants.

Hamilton Towne Centre is the third major lifestyle center in the Indianapolis area. Such projects feature enclosed-malltype tenants and big-box retailers in an open-air, upscale setting. Simon and Gershman Brown's development will be mostly retail, but will include hotel, office and residential components.

The project will be almost double the size of Clay Terrace, the Indianapolis area's first lifestyle center. That project, a joint venture of Simon and Indianapolis-based Lauth Property Group, opened in 2004.

The area's other lifestyle center, Metropolis in Plainfield, has 575,000 square feet of retail now. However, the developer, Indianapolis-based Premier Properties USA Inc., believes it eventually will grow to 2 million square feet.

A spokesman for Best Buy and a spokeswoman for Bed Bath & Beyond said Hamilton Towne Centre locations don't appear on their public lists of planned store openings. J.C. Penney officials did not return a call. But local brokers say site plans are circulating with those and many more retailers listed, though it's unclear how many of those commitments are firm. Experts say Hamilton Towne Centre shouldn't be hard to fill, despite its size. Connie Niessink, principal of Niessink Commercial Real Estate, said several of her clients are in active discussions for locations in the project. Niessink wouldn't identify her clients. But she said they were seeking spots ranging from 2,400 square feet to 35,000 square feet. Some already have stores in Castleton and Keystone at the Crossing, but are looking at an additional location because they believe the Noblesville project is far enough away to avoid cannibalizing sales.

The Noblesville area is a hotbed for residential construction, and many of the home buyers are affluent. The median household income within a five-mile radius of Hamilton Towne Centre is $92,964, according to Colliers Turley Martin Tucker research.

Niessink said some retailers considering stores in the development have expressed concern that lunch-time traffic might be light. However, several medical facilities are in the works in the area, she said, alleviating that concern.

Bryan Chandler, a principal with locally based Eclipse Real Estate, agreed.

"It's a great location with good spacing from other retail nodes," Chandler said.

"When you're trying to build something that important, you have to stay a certain distance away from other [retail] areas so you can get tenants to expand with you," he added.

And because the development will be just northwest of Interstate 69's Exit 10, it's positioned to capitalize on the residential growth of both Noblesville and Fishers.

"There is a lot of interest out there in this location," said Bill French, senior vice president and retail expert at Colliers Turley Martin Tucker.

French said he thinks Hamilton Towne Centre will be completely leased within 24 months.

"There continues to be a lot of residential and commercial growth in the area so, as time goes by, this site only gets better," he said.
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