ExactTarget parent wants to build office tower in Indianapolis

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Salesforce.com, the customer relationship management firm that acquired Indianapolis-based ExactTarget Inc. last year, is looking to build an office tower in the city.

Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of the San Fransisco-based firm, told IBJ on Tuesday that the company is looking to build its fifth tower in Indianapolis. Benioff counted four signature towers in London, Paris, Tokyo and San Francisco, with the latter still under construction. (In a coincidental development Tuesday, London city officials prevented Salesforce from renaming the 46-story Heron Tower the Salesforce Tower.)

"We'd like to build a Salesforce tower in Indianapolis, we just haven't found the right opportunity yet," Benioff said in a brief interview after hosting a keynote presentation at ExactTarget's annual conference, Connections 2014.

"If we can find the right developer, the right piece of land, we'd love to have a Salesforce tower here."

IBJ reported in February that ExactTarget was evaluating downtown sites where it could build a headquarters tower as large as 500,000 square feet.

At the time, ExactTarget employed about 1,000 people downtown spread across 215,000 square feet in three locations: the Guaranty Building on Monument Circle, the Century Building at Pennsylvania and Maryland streets, and the Gibson Building at Michigan Street and Capitol Avenue.

The three leases have expiration dates ranging from 2016 to 2021, according to a filing ExactTarget made with the Securities and Exchange Commission in early 2013.

Marc Lotter, spokesman for Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, said the city has not seen any proposal by Salesforce. But he noted that city, real estate and other leaders had been discussing for years the prospect of a new space for the rapidly growing ExactTarget.

Benioff’s remarks Tuesday lay out the vision, Lotter said, and the city looks forward to “seeing them take their place in the Indianapolis skyline.”

“That’s pretty good company for Indianapolis to be in,” Lotter said about the other cities Benioff mentioned. “So obviously, when Salesforce is ready, when the time is right for that company, it would be a discussion that we would look forward to having.”

In San Francisco, Salesforce reached a deal earlier this year to pay $690 million for the naming rights and a 15-year lease in a 61-story building expected to be completed in 2017 or 2018. Salesforce will take more than half of the 1.4 million square feet in the tower, which will be the tallest in the city.

Salesforce also reached a 15-year naming-rights deal this year to rebrand the 46-story Heron Tower in London, but the city shot down the agreement Tuesday because Salesforce only planned to occupy six floors in the tower. The building, near Liverpool Street, is the third tallest in London. It instead will be renamed 110 Bishopsgate, according to Bloomberg.

One of the potential sites for a downtown Indianapolis tower was snapped up in March when Cummins Inc. announced it would build its global distribution headquarters on the two remaining parcels of the Market Square Arena site. The $30 million project calls for office space for up to 400 Cummins employees, ground-floor retail, a parking garage and green space.

Cummins said it would purchase the four-acre site bounded by Market, Alabama, Washington and New Jersey streets from the city for $4.3 million. The city said it would invest $3.3 million in infrastructure improvements and parking on the site and abate 70 percent of the development’s property taxes for 10 years.

The project will be located just south of a 28-story, mixed-use project under development by Flaherty & Collins Properties. The local developer received a big boost in March when the Indianapolis City-County Council voted 18-9 to provide up to $23 million in city financing for the $81 million project.

Perhaps the hottest piece of downtown property that would be suitable for an office tower is a state-owned block northwest of Ohio Street and Capitol Avenue, and just north of the Statehouse.

As IBJ reported in July, Gov. Mike Pence's administration is in the midst of a study to consider the feasibility of a new building to house the judiciary, provide more legislative office space and offer parking for employees and visitors.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

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