MUNCIE — The state of commercial real estate in Delaware County is improving, local experts say.
By Keith Roysdon, Muncie Star Press 3/24/13
Local real estate company Coldwell Banker Lunsford recently released its annual “State of Commercial Real Estate in Delaware County” and summed up the status of retail, restaurant, office, warehousing and light industrial real estate locally.
“I think we’re seeing some increased activity, but it’s still a little bit spotty,” said Mike Lunsford. “I’m encouraged. There’s activity in a couple different areas.”
The report cited new construction, including the Campus Crest apartments along McGalliard Road near Oakwood Avenue and the 17 Hundred apartments along Bethel Avenue, new economic development shell buildings and two new auto dealerships and outlots near McGalliard/Ind. 332 and Nebo Road.
“If you go back to 2010, there’s been a substantial increase in all product mixes,” said Monte Brown of Coldwell Banker Lunsford.
Besides Lunsford, Muncie real estate offices such as ADM Commercial Properties — which recently sold several acres along McGalliard Road for a proposed retail center — have seen increased interest from potential developers.
The industrial space king
The former BorgWarner automotive plant on Kilgore Avenue is a local commercial and industrial real estate vacancy that is unusual but impossible to ignore.
Mostly unused since the auto parts manufacturer went out of business in 2009 — ending the jobs of the last few hundred workers out of more than 6,000 who worked there at the factory’s peak — the building is a manufacturing colossus: a half mile long and 1.2 million square feet in size.
Ohio businessman William Marsteller bought the building shortly after operations shut down. Mike Lunsford had been in charge of efforts to find a tenant or new owner. Local officials have hoped that various proposed projects, including an energy-industry manufacturer, might settle in the building and create jobs.
“We had someone in town looking at it today,” Lunsford said last week. Lunsford said Marsteller has gotten some value out of the building by scrapping parts but has left the building’s structural integrity.
In the meantime, Lunsford said, Marsteller is asking 95 cents per square foot to lease. “That’s real cheap,” Lunsford said.
And the owner has cut the sale price considerably to $2.2 million.
“He’d like to get out of it,” Lunsford said.
What’s hot – and needed
Asked what’s needed in the local commercial real estate market, Brown said, “Smaller warehousing buildings, 15,000 to 20,000 square feet. What’s out there is older and it might not have the ceiling heights required for today’s users, who rack things up fairly high.”
Each part of Muncie has its strong points as far as the commercial retail market goes, Brown and Lunsford said. The south side, where Southway Centre and Shoppes at Southside have commercial space available, has per-square-foot lease prices that are a fraction of what they are elsewhere.
Lyndenbrook remains the hottest area for individual offices, while downtown offers plenty of office space, according to the Coldwell Banker Lunsford report. And McGalliard Road, the city’s restaurant and retail strip, is still the king for those uses.