After nearly five years of vacancy, the strip center on Constitution Drive, just south of Target, should be seeing quite a bit of activity soon. In 2013, the two largest occupants moved out when Carpet Weavers relocated to Prairie Crossing and Friar Tuck expanded to a new building on West Wabash. Since then, the 28,400 sq. ft. strip center has been vacant and for more than two years it was listed for sale at $1,900,000 with no takers.
The listing agent, Bill Marriott of The Real Estate Group, said, “We had a little interest, but more from possible tenants than someone looking to buy. There were a couple of prospective buyers but their concepts never seemed to pan out. In the end, it was sold at auction.” He noted that the whole area at the south end of Parkway Pointe seems to have struggled in recent years.
The buyer of the retail center, Ram Talluri, is already quite familiar with the area and working to turn things around. He is the local franchisee for Sky Zone, a trampoline park that was constructed at 3454 Liberty Drive behind Target, in 2016. More recently, he built a 9,600 retail center directly across from Sky Zone and he is in the process of building storage units across the street, adjacent to his recently purchased strip center. His auction purchase was also a bargain; he paid just $700,000 for the vacant property.
While Talluri purchase the building for a fraction of the listing price, he says that he is planning to invest additional money to bring it up to speed. “I want to bring a new look to the center,” Talluri said, explaining that everything from a new color scheme to a new roof and façade are in the works. “We should be starting the work in four or five weeks,” he said. “We’re going to change the whole look and feel of the building.”
He is hopeful that the center won’t remain vacant for long. “I’m negotiating with one tenant who would take half of the space,” he said. “They are an existing business here in Springfield that is looking to expand.” He also believes he has two tenants to split the remaining 14,000 sq. ft. and indicated he was working with an ice cream store and an international grocery store, which he said would both be new businesses to the Springfield market.
His newly built retail center across from Sky Zone is also close to being occupied. “We are negotiating with two tenants who each want to take half of the building,” Talluri said. “It’s too soon to say their names, but they would both be retail businesses that would help drive traffic to Sky Zone.”
The fourth business venture in the area that Talluri is pursuing is storage units. The first phase is already complete, and he says he anticipates starting the second phase before the end of the month. In all, there will be 965 units when the project is complete. “We haven’t started marketing the storage units yet, but I think it will be a very good location,” said Talluri.
While Talluri has become a local developer, he also serves as the CEO and managing director of Lead IT Corporation, an international IT staffing company that employs 600 people worldwide. His Springfield office is located in a suite at 1999 Wabash Ave. With a small office and only a handful of local employees, many people may not realize that Talluri is overseeing companies with around $100 million in annual revenue. He and his many business ventures were profiled in the SBJ when he was preparing to open his first Sky Zone location (A franchise with its ups and downs, February 2016).
Local Realtor Bill Marriott is among those who hope Talluri’s plans in the Parkway Pointe area come to fruition. “There’s a lot of activity going on back there now with Sky Zone, and hopefully he’s going to single-handedly spur some development that will take off.”