Big tenant nearly completes tower’s sudden comeback

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The new owner of downtown's Landmark Center has signed another major tenant, nearly completing the sudden comeback of a building that exited receivership just late last year.

IBJ reported Thursday that Angie’s List Inc. plans to renovate and occupy four floors of space totaling about 100,000 square feet in the 12-story, 315,000-square-foot office tower. Now, Ambrose Property Group, the building's new owner, says that the Christian Church-Disciples of Christ will take another 60,000 square feet by moving its 195-person headquarters from 130 E. Washington St.

Between the two deals, the struggling Landmark Center will jump from less than half-full to more than 90-percent occupied, according to Ambrose President Aasif Bade.

Ambrose bought the Landmark Center out of receivership in late December. Bade declined at the time to divulge what he paid for the building, but real estate sources told IBJ the lender unloaded it for about $8 million.

The complex was only about 30-percent occupied after insurer Baldwin & Lyons Inc. recently left the building and moved its headquarters to Carmel.

Helping to fuel the resurgence is Ambrose’s plan to invest $5 million in the building. Renovations will include the addition of a fitness center, on-site restaurant, outdoor green spaces and bike storage.

The on-site restaurant is a startup called Grant’s, which is set to open May 1.It will be operated by a local, French culinary institute-trained chef, Bade said. The restaurant will take space once occupied by a cafeteria.

But perhaps one of the biggest selling points is free, onsite parking—a rarity in downtown.

“The parking is more or less adjacent to the building, and our employees now are scattered in different garages, one of which is two and a half blocks away,” said Cherilyn Williams, a spokeswoman for Disciples of Christ.

Since 1985, the religious organization has leased 80,000 square feet at 130 E. Washington St.—20,000 square feet more than it will have at Landmark Center. But in today’s office climate, many businesses and not-for-profits are making more efficient use of space.

Landmark Center, downtown’s 11th-largest office complex, has been in dire need of new blood. Just a few years ago it was almost entirely leased, but it since has been hemorrhaging tenants. Besides Baldwin & Lyons, it lost Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Still, a large vacancy can be a blessing in disguise, said Darrin Boyd, an office broker at Cassidy Turley. The brokerage formerly leased and managed the building during the receivership.

“A large block of space with free parking in the downtown or midtown area is very attractive [to potential tenants],” he said. “And the interstate signage is also something that someone can take advantage of. That’s a very recognizable and visible building.”

Located at 1099 N. Meridian St., the tower is just south of Interstate 65, as the highway traces the northern edge of downtown. The complex was built in 1984 and was home to Emmis Communications Corp. prior to its relocation in the late 1990s to a new headquarters on Monument Circle.

Michigan-based Quantum Investments paid more than $30 million to acquire the building in 2008. The last owner was a trust affiliated with New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co.  

Bade said in a statement that his firm is “proud” to welcome the two tenants. Disciples of Christ plans to move by early September. Angie’s List will consolidate several off-campus locations into Landmark Center, which is still close to its current headquarters on the east side of downtown.

About 1,000 employees work on the Angie's List campus and another 400 to 500 in a handful of buildings around Indianapolis, including the Disciples Center at 130 E. Washington St.

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