UPDATE: Lowe’s to invest $20.5M in customer-service center

Home-improvement retail giant Lowe’s has a big project of its own planned for the northwest side, intending to invest a total of $20.5 million to purchase, renovate and equip an office building for a massive customer service center.

North Carolina-based Lowe’s said Tuesday morning that it expected to hire as many as 1,000 workers for the center by 2016. The announcement at Intech Park with city and state officials confirmed a report from IBJ on Monday.

The 140,000-square-foot office building at 6620 Network Way will support Internet sales, delivery services and repair services for Lowe’s customers across the nation, the firm said. Lowe’s expects to begin hiring immediately for the center, set to begin operations in early 2015.

“Indianapolis adds a strategic Midwest location to our [existing] network of customer support centers located in North Carolina and New Mexico,” said Don Easterling, Lowe’s vice president of contact centers. “We appreciate the support of both state and local officials that helped make this a win-win project.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered Lowe’s up to $5.5 million in conditional tax credits and up to $100,000 in training grants based on the company’s job-creation plans. The tax credits are performance-based, meaning they cannot be claimed until the firm hires workers.

The city of Indianapolis also will consider tax incentives and funding for infrastructure required for the project, according to IEDC.

Located in the southwest quadrant of West 71st Street and Interstate 465, the office building housed Eli Lilly and Co.’s information technology department from 2003 to 2013.

The building's Atlanta-based owner, Wells Management Co., sold it to a joint venture between Encore Office LLC of Dallas and Middleton Partners LLC of Northbrook, Ill., in a deal announced Feb. 27.

A source familiar with the current deal told IBJ on Monday that Lowe’s purchased the building and three adjacent acres of land for $9 million. The land was required to expand parking for the facility, the source said.

Information released by Lowe’s and IEDC did not specify the average salary for workers at the center. Wages will average between $10 and $14 per hour, The Associated Press reported.

The deal exemplifies the continued improvement of the Indianapolis suburban office market, said John Robinson, managing director of the real estate firm JLL in Indianapolis, who was not involved in the Lowe's deal.

"This takes what was one of the few remaining large vacant spaces in the entire office market,” he said.

Lowe's will begin hiring for the new jobs immediately, and most of the people it hires will be from Indianapolis, Easterling said. Lowe's already employs nearly 7,900 people at 44 Indiana stores. Founded in 1946, the firm has 1,830 home improvement and hardware stores and 260,000 employees. In its 2013 fiscal year, it recorded sales of $53.4 billion.

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