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Renovated downtown office building lands tech tenants

October 24, 2017
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The J.F. Wild Building at 129 E. Market St. (IBJ photo)

A historic downtown building recently rehabbed for office use has attracted a couple of growing tech firms, including a food-delivery startup that’s making a splash in the online ordering industry.

In 2014, local developer Loftus Robinson bought the storied but vacant J.F. Wild Building at 129 E. Market St. and spent $7 million on a two-year restoration completed in late 2016.

Loftus Robinson occupies the top floor of the 12-story structure. Its first tenant was Kinetrex Energy, which moved into the first two floors in January.

ClusterTruck now has agreed to take the entire seventh floor, or 4,761 square feet, while RICS Software Inc. will take even more space—nearly 9,500 square feet on the 10th and 11th floors.

“We like working with forward-thinking organizations,” said Drew Loftus, principal and co-founder of Loftus Robinson, in prepared remarks. “All of the tenants joining us at J.F. Wild definitely fit that bill and value the impact a unique working environment can have on their culture.”

Banker J.F. Wild had the limestone building constructed in 1923 to house his growing financial institution. He commissioned Fermor Spencer Cannon, later the architect of Butler University’s Hinkle Fieldhouse, to design it in the Italian Renaissance Revival style.

Just four years later, however, the bank closed following the theft of $275,000 in bonds. Wild and three bank officers were indicted in the heist, although the charges were dropped in 1929.

Other banks later occupied the building, but decades of neglect took their toll.

The bank’s entrance is easily recognizable by its double-leaf paneled bronze doors, which, thanks to a thorough refinishing from Loftus Robinson, now hearken back to the building’s heyday. An original 29-ton bank vault in the basement, converted into a shared conference space for tenants, adds another element of character to the building.

ClusterTruck, led by CEO and founder Chris Baggott (also co-founder of ExactTarget Inc. and founder of Compendium Software LLC), is expected to move to the J.F. Wild Building in late November.

“We looked at a lot of spaces when deciding where our headquarters should be,” said Steven W. Fouty, ClusterTruck’s chief financial officer, in a press release. “It really came down to the location, the tech feel, and the ability to make the space at J.F. Wild our own.”

ClusterTruck prepares meals in its own kitchen at 729 N. Pennsylvania St. and uses its own drivers to deliver them within 10 minutes of being cooked. Local serial restaurateur Mike Cunningham oversees food operations.

Founded in 2016, ClusterTruck's offices will move from Circle Tower, where Baggott operated Compendium. Operations since have expanded to Bloomington and just this month to Columbus, Ohio.

RICS Software, meanwhile, will move from East 86th Street on the northeast side. The company develops software for retailers and ranked No. 4,664 on this year’s Inc. 5000 list, with three-year revenue growth of 50 percent. Company revenue in 2016 totaled $6.4 million.

Loftus Robinson expects leasing activity to continue.

"We're excited with the reception and are on pace to be fully leased late this year," Loftus said in an email to IBJ.

JLL is the building’s listing agent.

Loftus Robinson bought the J.F. Wild Building for $2.3 million in 2014 from Crown Property Group. Crown, which owns the Stock Yards Bank & Trust Building across the street at 136 E. Market St., acquired the J.F. Wild from Flaherty & Collins Properties in 2008 with intentions of renovating it.

By the time Loftus Robinson bought it, the building had been vacant at least a few years. The roster of its previous tenants that hung in the lobby listed several small criminal defense firms, likely due to its proximity to the City-County Building.

Loftus Robinson followed up in May by purchasing another historic downtown office building, One North Penn, at the northeast corner of Washington and Pennsylvania streets. The developer plans to begin renovating the 16-story structure in the spring.

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