Volunteers market growing retail space along East 10th

March 8, 2011

Indianapolis neighborhood organizers and volunteer brokers have begun a push to fill the critical mass of commercial space that will be coming online along the redeveloping East 10th Street corridor in the next two years.

The group of brokers, part of a Super Bowl Legacy volunteer committee, is partnering with the East 10th Street Civic Association to compile information about the properties and put them on a real-estate marketing Web site. They’ll host a broker tour later this spring.

Those moves come as six projects with more than 25,000 square feet of space will be completed this year and in 2012 along the corridor, which runs from near Rural Street east to Sherman Drive.

Those include buildings such as the Mayfair at 2032 E. 10th St., which was donated to the civic association and is expected to be tenant-ready by July, and Clifford Corners, a 50,000-square-foot mixed-use development with 8,000 square feet of commercial space across from a community green space.

The neighborhood already has landed a Marco’s Pizza for the Clifford Corners space. In addition, several new businesses, such as Little Green Bean Boutique, a children’s clothing resale store, and Pogue’s Run Grocer, the city’s first food cooperative, have opened in the last six months.

Those behind the marketing efforts hope that momentum will propel their goal of bringing other businesses to the district.

“We’ve reached that tipping point with the success of Pogue’s Run coming in,” said Tammi Hughes, executive director of the civic association. “It’s only going to be natural that we’ll continue to see that interest.”

The effort, however, won’t come without challenges. Residents in the near-east-side neighborhoods south and north of 10th Street have raised more than $100 million over the last seven years to improve the area with revitalized housing, new infrastructure and some of the mixed-use projects that are giving way to the commercial space. They've gotten a boost from National Football League sponsors and Super Bowl organizers. 

But the area remains in transition.

“I’d call it heavy lifting,” Terry Sweeney, vice president of real estate development for Indianapolis Downtown Inc., said of the business-attraction effort.

One of the obstacles is the median income in the commercial service area, which encompasses 35,000 residents in several blocks of neighborhoods along the four miles of 10th street that runs east from Interstate70/I-65 to Emerson Avenue.

While 26 percent of households earn an average of $50,000 or more annually, the median income hovers around $31,000, according to a market study completed last summer.

“The median income isn’t the exact match for some retailers – that can be a challenge of getting them down to the corridor,” said Joe Caito, a leasing and sales broker with the Indianapolis-based Acorn Group and an East 10th Street volunteer broker. “But it’s happening. It’s not that retailers won’t take a chance on a revitalizing area, but it’s a slower process.”

Sweeney, who has volunteered with some housing efforts in the area, said efforts to create mixed-income housing also will help bolster that income level in years to come.

“The key is going to be their ability to attract more rooftops and incomes,” Sweeney said.

Stronger market conditions also will work in the group’s favor. Steve Delaney, a principal with locally based Sitehawk Retail Real Estate who is not involved with the 10th Street effort, said demand in the retail sector is improving.

The neighborhood, he said, may provide a ripe opportunity for retailers to provide basic services, such as dry cleaners, barbers and mobile-phone stores.

“I think there’s probably a lack of these uses there that might give the retailers an opportunity to get into these neighborhoods,” Delaney said. “It’s convincing retailers there’s a demand for these products that’s the challenge.”

Hughes said the group will focus on bringing in products such as home improvement, food and beverages and general merchandise. Those are some of the most predominant areas where, the market study showed, residents are spending money in other neighborhoods because of lack of availability in the 10th Street area.

To attract development, the area can offer affordable rents – some as low as $6 to $8 per square foot. The civic association also has received about $150,000 from the Lumina Foundation to provide subsidies for rent and building improvements.

The goal with many of the spaces will be to line up tenants by the end of this year.


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