Growing church wants old Borders space in Carmel

Mercy Road Church is seeking to take over the former Borders bookstore at 116th Street and Keystone Parkway, transforming the long-vacant building into a long-term home for its growing congregation.

The church, which bills itself as an innovative Christ-centered organization, has been leasing space at 100505 N. College Ave. since April 2013. Before that, members worshipped for a year at a school in Carmel.

Lead pastor Josh Husmann said the church has a contract to buy the Borders building at 2381 Pointe Parkway for $2 million, pending city approval of a variance allowing religious uses on the commercial property.

It has about $300,000 budgeted for interior improvements, but Husmann said the bookstore’s high ceilings and layout work well for the contemporary church.

The 23,250-square-foot building sits on 2.5 acres in the Merchants Pointe shopping center, behind the more recently shuttered Romano’s Macaroni Grill restaurant.

Mercy Road’s lease on its existing facility runs through April 2016, but Husmann said the growing congregation needs more elbow room—and landlord Weihe Engineering needs the space.

Anywhere from 450 to 750 central Indiana residents attend Sunday services at the church, he said.

Borders Group Inc. closed its 400 bookstores in 2011 after filing for bankruptcy. Its three central Indiana locations were among the first to go.

The Merchants Pointe location—still adorned with the Borders name—is one of three vacant buildings in the shopping area south of 116th Street, across from Merchants Square.

Macaroni Grill closed last July, and North of 96th reported last spring that the Hooters-like Tilted Kilt sports pub chain was remodeling the old O’Charley’s space at 2293 E. 116th Street. That project has since stalled.

Husmann said he hopes the church will prove to be an asset for neighboring businesses, given the additional weekend traffic from members and visitors. The pastor said he also would be open to finding other uses for the facility during the week.

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