The south end of downtown may not qualify as the hottest real estate market in town, but since plans for a new stadium were unveiled in January, the largely industrial area surrounding it has definitely heated up.
Plans call for the stadium to be built on a two-square-block site bordered by Capitol Avenue, and South, Missouri and McCarty streets, now mostly occupied by surface parking. In the area surrounding that parcel, real estate sources report rising land prices and increased interest from potential buyers.
The stadium has created enough buzz for at least one business to move its headquarters to the area.
Mussett Nicholas and Associates, a local engineering and architectural firm, will move from its Lockerbie Square headquarters to an 18,000-square-foot building now under construction at 502 S. West St., a block west of the proposed stadium.
The firm bought the land in November, before the stadium plans were announced. The stadium helped clinch the decision to move to the building, however, rather than lease it to other tenants, said principal Tony Nicholas.
"We're hoping that area will blossom and that we'll be one of several new businesses to move down there," he said.
More room for the 40-employee firm and ample parking were also factors in the decision, he said. MNA plans to sell its current headquarters at 422 E. New York St., where it occupies 8,000 square feet and leases another 27,000 square feet to various tenants. The local office of Dallas-based Trammell Crow Co. is listing the property.
MNA may be the first business to follow the stadium south, but it's unlikely to be the last, brokers said.
Interest has picked up in properties for sale south of the proposed stadium, said Tom Cooler, senior vice president at the local office of Los Angeles-based CB Richard Ellis.
Cooler has a half-acre parcel on Merrill Street between West and Missouri streets listed for sale for $410,000. The property has been for sale for quite some time, but interest-and the price-went up once the stadium plans were announced, he said. No clear potential buyer has emerged, but whoever buys it will almost surely look to put a bar or some ancillary stadium use on the site, he said.
Ditto for a 1.79-acre tract at 801 S. Kentucky Ave. If nothing else, buyers of either property can generate income from parking on event days at the stadium, Cooler said.
Despite the pickup in interest, Cooler said he doesn't expect a massive transformation on the southwest side of downtown anytime soon.
"There are businesses there that would cost a lot of money to relocate," he said. "No one wants to move. They would only do it if it were for a lot of money."
A case in point is Diamond Chain Co., whose offices and plant sit between Kentucky Avenue and White River just west of the stadium site. Officials of Diamond Chain, a locally based division of Chicago-based Amsted Industries Inc., put the 20-acre property up for sale in October 2002. It's said to be listed for nearly $20 million.
Neither Diamond Chain officials nor the brokers listing the property could be reached for an update. An undated notice on the company's Web site said plans to sell the facility have temporarily been put on hold, although the company will still market the facility through the brokers.
Some investors in the area have already been priced out of the market, said Scott Langdon, principal of locally based Langdon Real Estate Services Inc. He recalled one property south of the planned stadium he showed investors a few years ago that was then listed for $100,000. Now the owners are asking close to $500,000, he said.
Plans are also moving forward at Madison Avenue and South Street for a mixeduse development called Meridian Overlook, said developer John Tiebel. Although Tiebel hasn't yet closed on the purchase of the 1.4-acre parcel, he's finalizing designs for a three-story building with one or more restaurants on the first floor and about 36 residential units above, he said.