New owners plan wholesale change for vacant Marsh in Lawrence

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The former Marsh space in North Lawrence Shopping Center at 5104 N. Franklin Road. (IBJ photo/Mickey Shuey)

The owners of a former Marsh supermarket in Lawrence plan to convert the space into a wholesale warehouse, as part of an overhaul of the whole shopping center.

Kamal and Iqbal Siddique plan to spend up to $1 million to renovate the North Lawrence Shopping Center at 5104 N. Franklin Road. The brothers acquired the property last year from Ruby and Pearl Property LLC for $1 million through their holding company, Ayesha Investments LLC.

The brothers plan to move their business, SE Imports & Wholesale, into the former Marsh space—which accounts for nearly 30,000 square feet of the 46,000-square-foot strip center.

The business currently leases industrial space in the 3800 block of Culligan Avenue, from which it provides soft goods, general merchandise, food, supplies, and a variety of other products to gas stations, liquor stores, tobacco shops and convenience stores throughout the United States.

The new warehouse is expected to employ seven full-time and seven part-time employees.

“Right now, that building just sticks out like a sore thumb,” said Kamal Siddique. “I think having someone come in and getting the lights back on … we think it will bring this former community asset back to life.”

The brothers grew up in Lawrence and bought the strip center because they want to revitalize it, he said.

“Our vision is to get that building—that area—back to life again,” he said. “And, slowly, I think we’ll get there.”

As part of that effort, the Siddiques also expect to open a grocery store in the strip mall that would occupy up to 7,000 square feet. The brothers have committed to launch the grocery in the center themselves if they can’t find a similar tenant within a year.

Siddique noted it would not be “just a convenience store.”

“We’re not going to have 30 different types of cereal … or five different types of potatoes, but we’ll have the basic necessities that a grocery store should have,” he said. “We want to be able to meet or exceed the need of the nearby community and help this area grow.”

Four locally-based tenants—Cathy’s Barbershop, Sophia’s Hair Salon, Music Depot and She Spot—currently lease space in the strip center. Siddique said he didn’t know whether they would remain as part of the redevelopment.

The brothers plan to give the building a fresh coat of paint and improve its 139-space parking lot. But there is little or no structural or facade work planned for the exterior of the building.

Siddique said the total planned investment for the property—including the purchase price—will be about $1.7 million to $2 million.

The brothers received rezoning approval from the city of Indianapolis Metropolitan Development Commission on Jan. 15. It is up for approval by the City-County Council on Feb. 24. The change would move the 5.12-acre site from the C-3 commercial district to the C-S district, which allows wholesale and retail uses.

The rezone was initially rejected in a 6-2 vote by the Lawrence City Council in September. Approval by the City-County Council would supersede the Lawrence council’s verdict.

The redevelopment is one of several planned for former Marsh stores in central Indiana, including a $7 million project in Fishers and a Martinsville supermarket being turned into apartments. A store in Shelbyville was recently converted into a preschool.

Marsh filed for bankruptcy in 2017 but was hemorrhaging locations in the years prior.

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