MSA redevelopers set to make another run at tower: Project takes on new moniker as it rolls out redesigned condominium plans

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With a new name, new floor plans and a new marketing team, the developers of the former Market Square Arena site are gearing up to make another go at building a high-rise condominium tower on the east side of downtown.

Developers hope the new designs, crafted with the assistance of Chicagobased Mesa Development LLC, will jump-start the tower, now more than a year behind schedule and saddled with a lien from a former key player.

The first phase of One Market Square, as the development has been renamed, will include 208 condos in a 31-story tower and 60 units in two, four-story buildings. Prices for units will range from more than $200,000 to $1.4 million.

The cost for the first phase will be “in excess of $100 million,” said Mark Cain, development manager of Market Square Partners and an executive with Columbus, Ohio-based Smoot Construction. Smoot is a principal in the development group along with Crossroads Development, a local firm headed by former Deputy Mayor William Shrewsberry.

That figure includes money already spent on marketing the project’s first design, which was scrapped last fall after the project failed to meet a 50-percent presale requirement to obtain construction financing.

Earlier cost estimates for the entire two-phase project, which includes a second condo tower on the south half of the MSA site, totaled $140 million.

One Market Square’s sales center will continue to be run by Indianapolis-based Flock Real Estate Group at 251 E. Ohio St. A September opening is planned for the center, although those who reserved units at the Residences at Market Square will be given a sneak preview of the new designs before then, Cain said.

It’s too soon to say whether One Market Square will have a 50-percent presale threshold, Cain said, noting that different lenders have different requirements.

Requirements to sell half the units in order to obtain construction financing are common in the industry. Cain said he expects the new financing plan for One Market Square to be resolved by fall.

Work also might begin on the midrise buildings before the tower if presale requirements are met first for those, Cain said.

Under Market Square Partners’ project agreement with the city, modified in March, the developers are supposed to meet all presale requirements for the first phase by Oct. 31. However, neither party considers that a hard-and-fast rule.

“We’re confident we’re going to see progress,” said city spokesman Justin Ohlemiller, referring to the presale deadline and other benchmarks spelled out in the modified agreement. “We’ll address that overall progress at the time the dates come up to determine what our next step is.”

Cain said he considers the most important date in the agreement a May 1, 2006, deadline for closing on the purchase of the two-acre north half of the MSA site from the city.

After that, according to the agreement, the city can revoke Market Square Partners’ bid and award the contract to another bidder without further negotiations.

The project is already a year behind schedule. Market Square Partners won the bid in February 2004 and had planned to break ground last fall. Since then, the initial design flopped and two key parties to the development left the project.

One of them, Chicago-based Consoer Townsend Envirodyne Engineering Inc., filed a $3.2 million mechanic’s lien on the project in May, claiming it was owed the money for services performed and contractors paid on behalf of Market Square Partners.

That lien has yet to be released, although Cain said the two parties are “putting final touches on the paperwork.” He declined to say what the settlement amount would be until the documents are finalized.

New signs for the former MSA site will be popping up in coming weeks.

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