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Real estate around the state.

Development, renovation, expansion - all areas of the commercial real estate scene are heating up throughout Indiana. Commercial construction of one sort or another is taking place in nearly every major Indiana city. Of the hundreds of active sites, we've highlighted but a few in the state's five largest population centers - northwest Indiana, the South Bend area, the Fort Wayne area, the Indianapolis area and southwest Indiana.


A shift in Northwest Indiana retail development has created new hot spots, says David Lasser, president of Commercial In-Sites in Merrillville. "Until two years ago, most of the big-box, power shopping centers had been centered in the Merrillville/Hobart area. Now, Schererville/Highland and Portage have in excess of a million square feet each completed, planned or under construction. That's a significant change in shopping patterns around here."

There still is some activity in the more established retail areas, he says. For example, the million-square-foot Hobart Crossings center on U.S. 30 is in its final stages of development.

Meanwhile, Lasser reports, Class A office space in Northwest Indiana is about 97 percent occupied. "We're seeing increasing demand for speculative construction to return to the market."

Occupancy of light-industrial properties in excess of 100,000 square feet is 95 percent, he continues, yet there is nothing currently under construction to accommodate the needs of light-industrial or multitenant office users. Lasser expects the demand to drive some kind of development in the not-too-distant future.

And the long-expected real-estate boost from the area's riverboat casinos is taking shape. "Now that the five casino boats are all up and running, tourism demand in the area is increasing, as evidenced by the plans for, or construction of, eight hotels," Lasser says.

In neighboring Porter County, Lake Erie Land Co.'s Coffee Creek Center is an ambitious 640-acre project with both commercial and residential components. It strays from the traditional zoning model of development, favoring an urban plan that includes housing surrounding a downtown-like retail-office center.

"It has been called the most important real-estate project in the nation," says Kevin Warren, Lake Erie Land Co.'s director of communications. Alleys and front porches will return to the residential portions, and within or near the neighborhoods will be such commercial activity as corner grocery stores and dental or legal offices. The "downtown" commercial buildings may include residential uses upstairs. Another key element is environmental preservation and restoration.


In the South Bend area, some significant development is bucking the trend to build on the outskirts of town. "We're currently renovating the Tower Building, a classic 12-story downtown structure that was built in 1929," says Mike Elbode, owner of Colfax Group. "It's a magnificent neo-Gothic building with gargoyles on the corners and leaded-glass windows." The 42,000-square-foot building is in the throes of a total restoration and would be ideal for small law firms because of its proximity to courts.

Elbode also cites two new structures around the corner from the Tower Building, a development that will be called Leighton Plaza. One building will be committed to Memorial Hospital, occupying some 90,000 square feet. The second building, which the Trammell Crow Co. will develop, will be about 46,000 square feet with Standard Federal Bank anchoring. Urban Design Group of Chicago is designing both structures.

"We're renovating another downtown building of about 23,000 square foot called Wayne Place," says Elbode. "It's a four-story structure built in 1928. We have a man on staff whose full-time job is to restore and maintain the brass. For a couple of decades, everything was leaving downtown and heading for the suburbs. Now, the pendulum has really swung back."


There has been a flurry of development near the Fort Wayne International Airport in a 450-acre industrial/business park that puts an emphasis on transportation-related endeavors. The Air Trade Center, as it's called, is a foreign-trade zone with 24-hour U.S. Customs services available. New construction is in full swing.

"We have just completed a new taxiway into the park that allows people to land, then taxi right up to their front door," says Jim Johnston, manager of business development at the Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce. "A little known fact about our airport is that we have the second-longest commercial runway in the Midwest at 12,000 feet." Chicago's O'Hare International, he says, has the only runway that's longer.

One of the leading developers in the airport area is Miller-Valentine Group. "Last year we entered the speculative industrial market with a 109,000-square-foot building in Centennial Park, which has since been entirely leased," says Dave Arnold, president of the Fort Wayne operation of Miller-Valentine. "So, we built one in the airport park."

Named Expressport One, the building has 112,000 square feet under roof and is ready for lease. Arnold adds that the company purchased enough land in that area to build several buildings of this size. "We envision continuing to build there as long as the market supports buildings of this type," Arnold says.

A lot of energy is being focused on the Fort Wayne airport area, primarily because of its location as an ideal distribution and light manufacturing center with direct access to interstates 69 and 469 as well as the air hub.

On the retail scene, Goldstine Knapke Co. is developing a new Kroger-anchored shopping center totaling about 100,000 square feet. In addition, the company recently opened a center at DuPont and Coldwater called DuPont Village, which includes a 64,000-square-foot Kroger.


Some of the biggest moves on the real-estate scene in central Indiana involve downtown Indianapolis properties. Among the biggest is a $50 million plan of insurer Anthem Inc. to consolidate many of its operations at a site on the southeast edge of downtown. "Ground-breaking will take place in July of this year for the first phase of the Anthem Operations Center," says Mike Wells, president of REI Investments, the project's developer. "Quad IV, as the site will be known, will consist of 250,000 to 300,000 square feet and is expected to bring about 1,300 people downtown." Once later phases of development are complete, the Anthem center will have brought at least 2,300 jobs downtown.

Another REI project is the downtown headquarters of Emmis Broadcasting, now under construction on Monument Circle. The building is scheduled for completion by the end of the year. And retail real-estate giant Simon DeBartolo Group is considering shaking up the downtown scene by moving its headquarters. While Simon may still opt to stay in the National City Center building, its other options for when its lease expires in two and a half years include construction a new office tower.

Other downtown activity revolves around the future site of the Indiana Fieldhouse, which will become the new home of the NBA's Indiana Pacers. Now under construction, the development is sparking new retail interest in the southeast quadrant of downtown. Meanwhile, the future of another downtown retail spot, Union Station, remains up in the air while the city of Indianapolis considers a number of redevelopment plans. Hotel space is a leading option.

The largest commercial development in central Indiana is Ameriplex. John Phair, president of Holladay Partners-Midwest, developer of the 1,500-acre site just south of Indianapolis International Airport, says Holladay just completed two buildings totaling 561,000 square feet. Johnson Wax occupies one of the buildings, and the other has tenant commitments. Both buildings have been sold to Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Phair adds.

In addition, Phair says his company closed on an 8.2-acre site where Dura Builders plans to locate its corporate headquarters, showroom and a wood-truss manufacturing operation. The project will finish out at somewhere between 80,000 to 100,000 square feet.

"We expect to break ground this year on three to four new buildings with something over 500,000 square feet between them," says Phair. "We expect there'll be approximately 1,000 people working at Ameriplex by this summer. Finished space will double from 1 million to 2 million square feet this year."

Duke Realty Investments is moving ahead with several development projects in the Indianapolis market. This includes a 110,000-square-foot speculative building in Park 100, a 150,000-square-foot expansion at Franklin Road Business Center and a 400,000-square-foot speculative building in Lebanon Business Park. Duke also has arranged a 578,000-square-foot building for Prentice Hall at the Lebanon Business Park.

The company plans to develop a speculative building of between 400,000 and 600,000 square feet in Plainfield. Duke Construction has put up a build-to-suit facility of 324,000 square feet in Hunter Creek Business Park for Holland House, a furniture manufacturer. And in Parkwood Crossing at I-465 and North Meridian Street, Duke is constructing

Parkwood IV, a 135,000-square-foot speculative office building slated for completion in September.

Lee & Urbahns Co. will put up a 100,000-square-foot office building in its Fortune Park Business Center on the west side of Indianapolis. Rick Martin, director of marketing and management, describes the project as either a four- or five-story building of granite and glass with a view of the lake and a tree-lined boulevard entrance.

On the retail scene, the Skinner and Broadbent Co., a high-profile retail developer, has begun construction of an ambitious new shopping center at U.S. 31 and 146th Street north of Carmel. The center will be approximately 175,000 square feet of retail space with an Office Max, a Barnes & Noble bookstore and a Petsmart comprising phase one, says Dave Cheslyn, executive vice president of development and acquisition for Skinner and Broadbent. The new center, called Greyhound Plaza, will cover 22 acres. A second phase is expected to include a grocery store, restaurants and possibly a bank.

Castleton square Shopping Center is about to experience an extensive renovation by its owner and manager, Simon DeBartolo Group. The former site of Kohl's will be demolished to make way for a food court and cafe area and an 80,000-square-foot, two-story Galyan's prototype store.

Also nearing completion for Simon is Muncie Plaza, which will sit on 22 acres adjacent to another Simon property. Phase one will be 195,000 square feet and should open early this spring.


The largest industrial site in the area is the Toyota plant in Gibson County. It already has had a tremendous impact on the northern half of Vanderburgh County, local officials report.

"The Toyota project consists of 1.6 million square feet under one roof; that's over 36 acres," says Ken Robinson, executive director of Evansville Regional Economic Development Corp. "It's pretty impressive." Robinson says the Toyota project sits on 1,100 acres and that the capital investment is $700 million, with an expected volume of 100,000 Toyota T100 trucks annually. Full production will begin next year, employing 1,300 people and supporting a yearly payroll of $100 million, Robinson adds.

To the east of Evansville, the AK Steel finishing mill planned in Rockport is another development plum that economic-development officials hope will lure more activity. The billion-dollar plant was the nation's biggest economic prize of 1996, when it was announced, and local officials hope suppliers and/or customers will follow the company to southwest Indiana.

In downtown Evansville, an expansion and renovation of the county-owned convention center is under way. Dolly Kight, executive director of the Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau, says the project will cost $35 million and include a 40,000-square-foot exhibition hall, a 15,000-square-foot ballroom, 12,000 square feet of additional meeting rooms and an auditorium. "In the next couple of years, Evansville is going to be a whole different community," Kight predicts.

Also in the southwest corner of the state, Waupaca Iron Foundry in Tell City, the company is starting work a couple years ahead of schedule on its second phase, a 200,000-square-foot, $65 million plant expansion that will increase employment by 200 people.
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Title Annotation:Indiana
Author:Dunlap, Phil
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Mar 1, 1998
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