Men's clothing chain Jos. A. Bank plans to open a store at Meridian and Washington streets downtown in a much-needed vote of confidence for street-level retail in the area.
The shop is set to take 4,000 square feet in the former home of H&H Mart at 10 E. Washington St., providing downtown with a standalone men's store for the first time in more than a decade. Downtown is flush with restaurants, but few clothing retailers operate outside the nearby Circle Centre mall.
The Jos. A. Bank store, the chain's sixth in central Indiana, would become an anchor of a redevelopment project led by two principals in locally based Summit Realty Group.
The project calls for 19 apartments and at least three large spaces for street-level shops or restaurants spread over two renovated buildings and a vacant lot immediately east of the King Cole Building.
The Jos. A. Bank store would be the first men's store at street-level downtown since Redwood & Ross shut its store on the northwest quadrant of Monument Circle in the late 1990s, said Terry Sweeney, vice president of real estate for Indianapolis Downtown Inc.
Redwood & Ross had earlier occupied space in the 17-story Barnes & Thornburg Building at 11 S. Meridian St., which was home to Borders until it closed earlier this year.
Sweeney said Jos. A. Bank has been looking downtown for years, drawn in large part by a high concentration of suit-wearing customers. But finding the right spot downtown was not as easy as in the suburbs.
"It means a lot," Sweeney said of Jos. A. Bank's plans for a downtown store. "It begins to show the strength and confidence retailers and restaurants continue to have in downtown."
Jos. A. Bank also has stores along 82nd Street on the northeast side and in Greenwood, Carmel, Noblesville and Plainfield. The Hampstead, Md.-based chain was established in 1905 and has more than 500 locations in 42 states.
The project where the shop plans to open downtown has been dubbed McOuat (Mc-Coo-it) Place after the seven-story McOuat Building at 14 E. Washington St.
Plans call for the McOuat to house between 19 and 21 one-bedroom loft apartments on floors three to seven. Available retail spaces on the first and second floors will range from 3,600 square feet to about 15,500 square feet.
The developer, Uptown Realty Investors, is led by Summit principals John Demaree and Bill Ehret.
Demaree declined to discuss a potential Jos. A. Bank store, saying there are no signed deals for the project. He and his partners have been talking with a couple of interested restaurant users, and also have fielded expressions of interest for the vacant lot to the immediate west of the properties.
The brokers began acquiring pieces of the property about a decade ago, when they bought and demolished the first two buildings. In 2007 the pair began working on plans to build a 10-story structure, a move that would have required demolition of the low-rise former home of H&H Mart, but that deal fell through in 2009.
Bridget Farren of locally based Farren Real Estate Services is representing Jos. A. Bank in the deal, Sweeney said. Farren did not immediately return a phone message.