Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

November 27, 2013

City inks Firestone building deal

Developer hopes to lure office and retail tenants to downtown.

The Firestone building that has stood empty at the corner of Mulberry and Union streets could soon be filled with offices and retail tenants, with renovations expected to begin in the next 30 days.

The city of Kokomo has closed a deal with KipCor that will allow the Memphis-based development group to begin renovations that could include five to six office spaces on the building’s second floor and possibly a “gourmet grocer,” a coffee shop and other retail options on its ground level, KipCor head developer Jeff Broughton said.

Broughton, who has purchased 10 residential properties in the Kokomo area in the last 90 days, said he hopes to bring life to the city’s downtown by luring in both commercial tenants and a larger retail store as the building’s main attraction. He said he has had discussions with some of the senior staff at Trader Joe’s, a privately held chain of specialty grocery stores with around 400 locations nationwide.

While Broughton admitted that Trader Joe’s might not ultimately end up in the building’s first level, he has put some of the chain’s “senior staff” in contact with Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight. Trader Joe’s currently is reviewing the site and typically requires at least three months to determine whether it will choose a particular location, Broughton said.

“I’m not sure Trader Joe’s is ultimately going to work,” Broughton said. “They’re doing their due diligence and I know some of the senior staff who I put in contact with mayor (Goodnight) and they’ve had a package (of information about the site) for 30-40 days. Even if they decide it’s not for them, as a developer, I think they would be a great tenant.

“Ultimately I feel like (the Firestone Building) would be a great place for a gourmet grocer,” he added. “We’re going to be careful. Our first choice would be some type of gourmet grocer similar to Trader Joe’s. We want to make sure we have the right tenant in there.”

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