Star negotiating HQ move to former Nordstrom at Circle Centre

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The Indianapolis Star is negotiating to take a portion of the space in Circle Centre mall vacated by Nordstrom two years ago, Publisher Karen Crotchfelt confirmed in a note posted on the newspaper's website Wednesday evening.

The Star has been searching for new space since its parent, Virginia-based Gannett Co., put the newspaper's 190,000-square-foot headquarters building at 307 N. Pennsylvania St. on the market last July. Gannett received more than a half-dozen offers on the building and adjacent 500-space parking garage before agreeing to terms with local apartment developer The Whitsett Group.

“This location would suit our needs very well,” Crotchfelt wrote, referring to the former Nordstrom space. “The extremely large floor plates would allow us to create an open and collaborative environment that would bring all our employees together for the common purpose of serving the community.”

The note did not specify how many square feet the newspaper would take or whether the new offices would be spread over more than one floor. It said the space under negotiation is at the corner of Meridian and Georgia streets.

Crotchfelt added that while details still need to be worked out with mall manager Simon Property Group Inc., the two agreed that they needed to be transparent about the process.

“Plus, let’s face it: I can’t let anyone scoop us on this story,” she wrote.

On Wednesday morning, IBJ’s Property Lines blog reported that The Star was considering a portion of the Nordstrom space, along with other options including the CSX Building, which is at the southwest corner of Georgia and Pennsylvania streets.

If the lease deal closes for the Nordstrom space, it would set up a potentially awkward landlord-tenant relationship involving the city and the state's largest newspaper.

Circle Centre mall’s ownership is a complicated mix of entities that includes the city and the newspaper itself. The city owns Circle Centre's parking garages and the land under the mall. It paid more than half the cost of building the mall and constructed the Nordstrom space at little or no upfront cost to the retailer.

Most of the mall itself is owned by a partnership of 20 mostly local companies, including The Star and Simon, which collects fees for management and leasing.

The high-end department store chain closed the 210,000-square-foot downtown store in July 2011. Nordstrom opened with the mall in 1995, helping ensure the project's success. A Star move into Nordstrom space would be a disappointment to some city boosters who hoped for a retail replacement.

Meantime, The Whitsett Group plans to start construction by the end of the year on a building to be constructed on the Star’s longtime campus at the corner of Delaware and New York streets, principal Joe Whitsett said.

Whitsett’s plans call for up to 500 apartments in three buildings and retail space that could attract a bank branch or restaurant.

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