At one of the busiest intersections in the county, a Center Grove area shopping center has multiple vacancies.

In the past few years, a pharmacy moved out, and other shops closed at the Center at Smith Valley, at Smith Valley Road and State Road 135. But now, a new owner has purchased the shopping center and plans to give it a facelift and bring in new shops.

That recent purchase reflects the continued interest in retail spaces on the southside and in Johnson County, said Jacqueline Haynes, senior vice president at commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield.

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Retailers want spaces around the mall, but those spots are quickly being snatched up. And other areas also are booming, including near Interstate 65 at County Line Road and along State Road 135, said Haynes, who has worked on the southside for years.

According to studies by commercial real estate firms, the southside has one of the lowest retail vacancy rates in central Indiana.

Johnson County has a retail vacancy rate of 5.7 percent, which is the second lowest of all the markets in central Indiana.

The west side, which includes Brownsburg, Avon and Plainfield, had a vacancy rate of 5.2 percent, according to a study by CBRE Group, a commercial real estate firm.

Another study showed the Greenwood and Southport areas had a vacancy rate of 4 percent, also one of the lowest in central Indiana, according to the study by Cushman & Wakefield.

A year ago, Haynes sold a shopping center at Stop 11 Road and U.S. 31, and the vacancy rate was about 4 percent then as well.

“Demand has continued to remain strong for the Greenwood area,” Haynes said.

In the past year, years-long vacancies have been filled at Greenwood Park Mall and in shopping centers just north of County Line Road, off U.S. 31. New grocery stores, such as Fresh Thyme and Earth Fare, came to the southside. Walmart built in the Center Grove area, and Costco is building a southside location on County Line Road.

The southside has good incomes, density and growth, which are all factors retailers consider when moving into an area, she said. Greenwood’s population recently topped 50,000, and the southside is home to executives and workers from Lilly and Cummins, meaning residents have the level of income retailers are seeking, she said.

“All of the sudden we are on everybody’s radar, because this is a growth area,” she said.

But several retailers, including high-end restaurants and shops, haven’t yet come to the southside because they haven’t been able to find the space, she said.

Retailers aren’t just snatching up new buildings; they are also seeking spaces that are older and may need some remodeling, such as the Center at Smith Valley, which was recently purchased by commercial real estate firm Thomas English. Now, the firm plans to redevelop the center and bring in new shops and restaurants, she said.

That will be an attractive location for retailers, with the traffic and incomes of residents in the area, she said.

Another growth area is along County Line Road, near I-65 and Emerson Avenue. The planned Greenwood Town Center, which would bring 700,000-square-feet of new retail space, could be a catalyst for growth, she said.

More space in those two areas could allow some of the retailers to come to the southside that aren’t already here, including stores such as Bass Pro Shops or Home Goods, and high-end boutique grocery stores, she said.

But if you’re still holding out hope for a Trader Joe’s, that’s not likely, Haynes said.

She has talked with the company about coming to the southside, and they aren’t interested, she said. The Midwest isn’t as good of a market as other areas of the country, and the company plans future locations with a national approach, she said.

But that doesn’t mean new options for shopping and restaurants won’t come to the area.

“There are still several concepts that would like to be on southside,” she said.

By the numbers

Here is a look at the retail vacancy rate in central Indiana:

Central (includes majority of Indianapolis): 8.2 percent

Northside and Hamilton County: 5.8 percent

Johnson and Morgan counties: 5.7 percent

Hancock and Shelby counties: 8 percent

Hendricks County: 5.2 percent

Average: 6.2 percent


By the numbers

Here is a look at the lowest retail vacancy rates in certain areas around Indianapolis:

Brownsburg: 1.2 percent

Nora: 2.5 percent

Fishers/Noblesville: 3.4 percent

Broad Ripple/Glendale: 3.5 percent

Michigan Road/Zionsville: 3.9 percent

Greenwood/Southport: 4 percent

Mooresville: 4 percent

Plainfield: 4.9 percent

SOURCE: Cushman & Wakefield

Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2718.