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South downtown parking lot eyed for mixed use: Project slated to include ground-floor retail, with residential or office space above

July 11, 2005

A Lafayette developer has a parking lot on the southeast corner of Meridian and South streets under contract with plans for a mid-rise, mixed-use building.

Developer John Teibel plans to purchase the 1.4-acre lot from local investors Robert and Karen Dittemore, who have owned the lot for several years, said Scott Langdon, who is representing the couple. The lot is across the street from Eli Lilly and Co.'s Faris/Brougher complex.

Plans call for the first floor of Meridian Overlook to contain retail space, with either residential or office space above, Teibel said.

"Both have their pluses and minuses," he said. "There's certainly concern about the availability of office space downtown, but our thinking is that with the high-profile location and signage [opportunity], someone might like to be on that corner."

Downtown office vacancy in the first quarter was 15.6 percent, according to statistics from locally based Colliers Turley Martin Tucker.

The residential market is more favorable, Teibel said, but added that pricing will be an issue because the immediate area around the site offers fewer residential amenities than does the Massachusetts Avenue area surrounding new condo developments on the northeast side of downtown.

Several condo projects are in the works or near completion just north of the Meridian Overlook site along Meridian Street, including Meridian Lofts, Six Over Meridian and One Eleven South Meridian. Construction has also begun on a Homewood Suites extended-stay hotel in the area. Those projects are all conversions of historic Wholesale District buildings.

Teibel said he's in the process of finalizing Meridian Overlook's design while working through final details of closing the purchase on the land. Both should be finished by the end of summer, he said.

Ideally, Meridian Overlook would house a "nice, high-profile" restaurant on the first floor and contain landscaping to maintain the campus-like feel of the surrounding area, Teibel said.

"I love what's across the street with Faris," he said. "I'd like to continue that."

The site was also at one time under consideration for a hotel under a different buyer, said Brian Epstein of Urban Space Commercial Properties. That deal failed to gel, however.

Meridian Overlook isn't Teibel's first play at development on the south side of downtown. He owns a half-acre on South New Jersey Street between Virginia Avenue and South Street. Teibel in 2003 floated plans for 32 luxury condominiums on the triangular piece of ground, to be called Delta Park. Those plans have been put on the back burner for the time being, he said.

"There's some other projects I'm working on," Teibel said. "I'm not rushing it."

A larger development is in the works for the south side of South Street at Virginia Avenue and East Street. Locally based Page Development is planning the Villaggio at Page Pointe on that corner, which would be an eight-story building

with 65 luxury condominiums selling for

$280,000 to $450,000.
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