Property Lines - Scott Olson

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Real Estate & Retail

Our shining moment: No downtown vacancies

January 30, 2012

Anyone who loves downtown felt sad the day Nordstrom closed. Ditto for the drawn-out Borders going-out-of-business sale.

But downtown's retail space is almost 100 percent occupied this week thanks to a strong demand for spots to host parties and sell souvenirs, along with an inspired idea from our Super Bowl Host Committee.

The city managed to turn one of its highest profile retail vacancies, the former Nordstrom at Circle Centre, into a Super Bowl asset drawing rave reviews. The space has been packed during most of the hours it's open. The size of the crowd has been a minor distraction during WISH-TV Channel 8 broadcasts from the space. NFL-licensed gear is flying off the shelves of the giant second-floor Lids Locker room.

"It's a great use," Mayor Greg Ballard said Monday, after a press conference where he suggested Indy should be considered as a Super Bowl host every 10 or so years. He quickly added he hopes the mall space isn't available to accommodate The Huddle the next time the Super Bowl circus rolls into town.

Same with the Borders space, which will serve as a makeshift nightclub and concert venue this week. The former Krieg Bros. Catholic Supply House now is offering Super Bowl gear. And the first floor of the CSX Building at Georgia and Pennsylvania streets is a temporary sports bar pouring the Super Bowl's former official beer, Coors Light.

The temporary uses are a windfall for building owners. Average-quality downtown retail spaces are renting for $1,000 per day this week and good ones are going for $3,000, said broker Brian Epstein of Urban Space Commercial.

He figures the Borders space will generate six figures, easy. And the licensed apparel giant Lids is rumored to have paid more than $500,000 for its massive store in the former Nordstrom.

Here's hoping building owners will use some of that cash to find permanent tenants for downtown's empty storefronts.

Another legacy of the Super Bowl?

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