Architecture firm closing, renovated HQ on block

A prominent local architecture firm is in the process of disbanding as a bank forecloses on a construction loan used to renovate its historic headquarters building.

A2SO4 Architecture LLC filed paperwork Tuesday with state agencies alerting them of the firm’s closing. Its managing partner, Sanford Garner, said A2SO4 is no longer bidding on contracts and is finishing up existing contracts. He said he hopes to wind down operations by the end of March.

A2SO4, one of the largest architectural firms in Indianapolis, in early April moved from Union Station to a former Catholic Church at the southwest corner of College Avenue and North Street, near the Lockerbie neighborhood.

The firm spent more than $1 million rehabbing the 11,000-square-foot building, which is larger than the 9,000 square feet it formerly occupied.

In a judgment finalized Monday in Marion Superior Court, lender KeyBank was granted a decree of foreclosure and awarded $1.2 million, including interest, on the outstanding loan amounts owed by A2SO4.

The firm borrowed $1.1 million and another $300,000 in February 2012. It owed $907,651 in principal on the larger loan and the entire amount on the smaller one, according to court documents.

The loans came due a year later, in February 2013. Due in part to construction delays, Garner was unable to pay the entire balances and requested an extension, which the bank denied, he said. A2SO4's workload also suffered from the downturn in the economy, Garner said.

“I’m very thankful to have brought back a wonderful, vacant building downtown,” said Garner, noting that he has no definite plans and is considering his options.

Garner bought the building in 2002. It had remained vacant until A2SO4 moved in last year. Garner is attempting to sell the building, which is listed for $1.75 million with Larry Gregerson of Century 21 Scheetz.

An attorney representing KeyBank did not return a phone call seeking comment on the foreclosure. The bank sought to foreclose on the loans in June.

A2SO4 has been accused of falling behind in payments before.

In February 2013, the state temporarily shut the firm because it owed more than $43,300 in delinquent taxes. The Indiana Department of Revenue revoked the firm’s retail merchant certificate, which authorizes companies to withhold sales taxes and employee payroll taxes.

Garner said at the time that the state never should have closed his business because it’s not a retail establishment and doesn’t collect sales taxes. A February letter from the state to Garner’s attorney supported that contention.

The letter further said the department was satisfied with the firm’s commitment to address unpaid employee withholding taxes and would take no further action.

Garner founded A2SO4 in 2001 along with Vop Osili. The two are among relatively few black architects in Indiana. Osili left A2SO4 in 2010 to run for secretary of state and then sold his interest in 2011. He currently is an Indianapolis city-county councilor.

With billings of $3.4 million in 2011, the most recent year figures were available, A2SO4 ranked as the city’s 11th-largest architectural firm, according to IBJ’s Book of Lists. At the time, A2SO4 reported that it had a staff of 18 full-time employees. The firm currently has seven employees.

A2SO4's design projects have included a parking garage for Eskenazi Health, the interior design for a series of five-story buildings to surround downtown's Barton Tower, and several projects at Indianapolis International Airport.

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