A growing public affairs firm has purchased a vacant, historic building in the shadow of the Statehouse and is preparing it for office or retail tenants.
The Corydon Group bought 125 W. Market St. Aug. 2 and will occupy the 4,200-square-foot top floor of the three-story building after renovations are finished in early November.
Corydon Group’s TCG Realty LLC paid $1.4 million for the 17,000-square-foot building, which had been owned since 2006 by local businessman John Thompson. Thompson had leased the entire building to the Public Employees Retirement Fund, which once owned the building. PERF moved out in early 2011.
Corydon Group founder Chris Gibson bought 125 West Market in partnership with Lou Belch, president of Corydon’s health care practice group.
“When we started our search last fall, we were looking at buildings that were quite a bit smaller and less costly,” Gibson said. But the opportunity to own a historic building 300 feet from the front door of the Statehouse was too good of an opportunity for the public affairs firm to pass up.
“We increased our budget and took on more risk, and we did that almost solely based on location,” Gibson said.
Gibson founded The Corydon Group, which bills itself as the largest independent governmental affairs firm in Indianapolis, in 2000. The firm has eight employees. Gibson projects employment will grow to between 10 and 12 in the next 18 months, largely on the strength of the firm’s growing association management business. Owning a building larger than what the firm needs will give it room to expand in the future, he said.
For now, the first and second floors will be leased.
Cassidy Turley brokers Jon Owens and Russ Van Til, who represented TCG in the purchase, have been hired to find tenants for the building. Gibson said the first floor could be leased to a retail tenant. The building’s 4,200-square-foot basement is also available. The partners considered converting it to parking, but the $250,000 it would have cost for nine spaces didn’t make financial sense, Gibson said. That means Corydon Group and its tenants will need to arrange for parking in nearby garages.
The firm is spending $800,000 for a complete renovation of the third floor, upgrading the lobby to make it handicapped accessible and for improvements to the façade at street level.
Blaze Construction is handling the renovation work, which is to be completed by Oct. 31. Key Bank is financing the purchase and the improvements.
Corydon Group also has hired an archivist to learn more about the building, which Gibson believes dates back to the 1880s. One hundred years before it housed the state’s public employees pension fund, it housed a printing company.
In the 20 years Gibson has worked downtown, he’s seen numerous businesses occupy the 100 block of West Market, He said it’s always been a vital block, owing largely to its proximity to the seat of state government.
Rich Forslund, an office broker and senior vice president of Summit Realty, said properties on West Market Street once depended on being able to lease space to state agencies. But the street now relies to a greater extent on private tenants, and they've taken to the area.
“There’s been a good amount of action over there,” said Forslund, who handles leasing for the ISTA Building at the northeast corner of Market and Capitol Avenue.
He said among the reasons the area is attractive to users is the above- and below-ground connections to other areas of downtown. For example, someone who entered the former Block’s department store building immediately east of Corydon Group’s building could go several blocks east and south via Circle Centre mall without going outside.
Forslund estimated a building like the one Corydon now owns would rent for approximately $15 to $17 per square foot.