Farm fields dominate three corners of the intersection at Whiteland Road and State Road 135, which years ago was expected to develop into a hub for medical offices and retail shops.
Today, there are a few businesses, mostly in a strip mall. Traffic is rarely heavy in the area, unlike a few miles north on State Road 135.
The strip mall property will be auctioned in a Johnson County sheriff’s sale next week, the latest setback for an area many thought was destined for big development.
The intersection had been expected to see substantial growth. Clarian Health Partners piqued interest when it bought 158 acres in 2007 with plans for an urgent care facility and outpatient services. A bank and pharmacy were planned, too.
Bargersville and Greenwood scrambled to become the sewer service provider for the area and spent a combined $830,000 in legal fees trying to annex 2,350 acres to the northeast of the intersection. Greenwood eventually won the case, which went to the Indiana Supreme Court. The anticipated residential and commercial development would have brought in revenue from property taxes and sewer bills.
A salon, Impressions South, was moved to the area by owners Alicia Bay and Tara Chamberlain 4½ years ago. They expected the area to be ripe with customers from a new hospital development and from people buying homes in new subdivisions.
The salon is one of six businesses in South Grove Landing Shoppes. Besides a pharmacy, the strip mall is the only development that has happened in the years since the land across the street was purchased and slated for a medical development.
Impressions South previously was off U.S. 31 in Whiteland, but the buzz around the growth potential of the area near Whiteland Road and State Road 135 led Bay and Chamberlain to move their salon.
“We had high expectations,” Chamberlain said. “We were shown the demographics, had heard about Walgreens buying property, the YMCA was looking at an area, and the hospital was going in across the street.”
Clarian Health, now part of the Indiana University Health network, never started work on the planned facilities. Officials with IU Health have no specific plans for the property, spokesman Gene Ford said.
The stalled development of the hospital facilities led to several businesses and organizations deciding not to proceed with planned projects. Walgreens still owns a lot on the southeast corner of the intersection but is trying to sell the property, Bargersville town manager Kevin McGinnis said. A YMCA in the area also never materialized, and the organization now is considering building near a new aquatic center in Freedom Park, about six miles north in Greenwood.
CVS opened a store on the northwest corner of the intersection in 2008, and it remains open. The South Grove Retail Shoppes, home to the salon, restaurants, karate studio, baseball and softball academy, and a personal training and fitness center, is 75 percent full, but the adjoining lots are empty. Five of those lots, totaling 20.3 acres, were foreclosed in July.
The undeveloped lots, which were planned for various stand-alone businesses, were difficult to fill due to the economic downturn and the hospital project falling to the side, said Mike Duke, who developed the South Grove Landing area with Rob Richardson. Duke is still listed as an owner of the property, but he said he has not had an active role in its operations since mid-2011. Richardson took over management of the property in 2011, Duke said. Richardson could not be reached for comment.
Duke and Richardson are listed as the defendants in the foreclosure suit filed by MainSource Bank.
Nearly three dozen people have shown interest in the retail property, said Seth Seaton, vice president for Key Auctioneers, which is conducting the auction. No minimum bid is set for the auction, but Seaton estimated the property will sell for about $2 million.
“I think the strength of this property is the good anchors with Flap Jacks and La Chalupas,” Seaton said. “The drawback is the area is not a circus, but I think at some point the development will get to the area.”
Land is difficult to sell in the area, as too few subdivisions have been built, which would attract retail businesses, McGinnis said. The town has zoned the area for commercial development, and sewer hookups are ready.
“We have everything in place to facilitate development in that area,” McGinnis said. “Being open to development and open to the process is about all that we can do.”