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Real Estate & Retail

Lee, Willis prosper outside limelight: Former WRTV co-anchors run growing public relations firm

News defined the careers of Clyde Lee and Diane Willis for a combined five decades. And it was the nation's biggest news event of the last decade-9/11-that served as an ominous backdrop for the duo's first entrepreneurial venture. "We incorporated in August 2001, and less than a month later, 9/11 hit, and we thought, 'Oh my,'" Lee recalled. But more than four years later, Lee/Willis Communications is still standing-and prospering. The fiscal swoon that followed 9/11 caused many companies to...
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TOM HARTON Commentary: Luring people with bricks, mortar

A parking garage is about to rise on a vacant lot at 120 E. Washington St. It's ironic that a block or so west of the site, a group of architects, city planners, real estate developers and leaders of the city's arts movement meet on a regular basis to plot against such garages. The garage in the works isn't just any garage. In its current design, which is yet to be approved, it's only a garage. No ground-floor retail. Just...
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Tenacious spirit pays off for top real estate agent: With $45 million in 2005 home sales, Bif Ward just doesn't give up when it comes to serving clients

Bif Ward has racked up some impressive numbers during her 26 years in residential real estate, and many think that's because she caters exclusively to A-list clientele with pricey properties to buy and sell. But Ward is smart enough to know that brokering only for corporate bigwigs and local celebrities would get her nowhere fast, especially in a town where the average home price is just over $162,000. "All these expensive listings-if that's all I did, I'd be broke," said...
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Coastal is in the name, central Indiana is its game: California-based firm cultivating its local operations

Despite its name, Coastal Partners LLC is firmly entrenched in the heartland. Most of its current projects are in central Indiana, as are about half its employees. In August, the Sacramento-based firm hired Tom Ott to oversee its central Indiana operations and new development. Ott, a respected 10-year veteran of the local office of Los Angeles-based CB Richard Ellis, plans to continue his relationships in the local brokerage community to further Coastal Partners' presence in the area. Although the name...
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South-side exit finally sparking development: Wal-Mart might by key to I-65/County Line interchange meeting expectations

An interchange linking Interstate 65 and County Line Road completed six years ago is finally helping attract large commercial development to a busy Johnson County corridor. While Greenwood city officials are pleased by the amount of activity occurring there, they question why it took so long. "We thought it would take off much sooner than it did," said Ed Ferguson, Greenwood's director of planning, zoning and economic development. "We still have several hundred acres available in what we call the...
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Apartment industry embracing Ball State graduates: Program makes property management a career goal

During the 1990s, a booming Indianapolis apartment market was becoming increasingly competitive. About 10,000 units were added to the market in the second half of the decade and professional, well-educated managers to run them were in short supply. Enter the Apartment Association of Indiana, which figured the best way to find the professionals apartment owners needed was to grow their own, so to speak, by creating a post-secondary education degree program for the industry. At that time, Virginia Tech was...
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Bye-bye blight?: Developers grabbing parcels east of Circle Centre mall

Several groups are floating plans and crunching numbers for downtown hotel or condo projects east of Circle Centre mall, an area that has been largely passed over for new developments in recent years. One of the more imminent projects is a large mixed-use development for the quarter-block at Maryland and Pennsylvania streets, now occupied by surface parking lots and a 9,000-squarefoot office building. A group that includes local developer J. Greg Allen has four separate parcels at the corner under...
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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: Bubble won't burst on commercial real estate investors

Winding down his remarkable tenure as chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan seems to have chosen "real estate bubble" as one of the themes of his swan song. And with housing prices in some cities soaring, the rest of us as mere mortals can reasonably wonder how long it will be before the bubble bursts and what will be the fallout if and when that happens. Many private equity investors with holdings in commercial real estate are beginning to...
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Browning launching $10 million equity fund: Firm seeking investors for local industrial properties

After 28 years in the real estate development business, Browning Investments Inc. is inviting investors to take a cut of some of its deals. The locally based firm plans to launch a private investment fund to buy properties, mostly central Indiana industrial buildings. Browning officials are working on raising $10 million in equity for a fund that will leverage debt to acquire $30 million to $40 million in properties. They hope the fund will be the first of several. The...
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