Carrie Rengers

First of two TGC Group Opportunity Zone projects kicks off

Now that Mead’s Corner has been demolished, what’s next for the northwest corner of Douglas and Emporia?

First, a lot of site work.

“Interestingly enough if you think about it, there’s some of that dirt that hasn’t been touched by a human or seen the light of the day . . . since 1907, and so that’s kind of fun to think about,” says Nick Esterline, TGC Group president.

The company is building a 75,000-square-foot, four-and-a-half story building that IMA Financial Group will anchor.

TGC’s $21 million project is taking advantage of the site’s location within an Opportunity Zone, which is an area the federal government identifies as needing development and then defers taxes for investors who do work there.

With the new hotel TGC is going to break ground on next month at the Delano catalyst site, that makes about $35 million in projects the company has in Opportunity Zones.

“That’s a pretty big deal,” Esterline says.

IMA is leaving its east-side space for 40,000 square feet on the top two floors of the new building.

There’s another 20,000 square feet of office space on the second floor, which Esterline says he can divide into smaller spaces if necessary.

“One tenant’s easiest, and we can certainly get aggressive if it’s just one tenant . . . because that changes the economics.”

There’s another 12,000 square feet on the ground floor for restaurant and retail space.

Esterline says he’ll have announcements about tenants in about six months and will turn IMA’s space over to the company by October 2020.

“It’s going to go vertical fast.”

TGC also is involved in the nearby Spaghetti Works District, and Esterline says commercial interest there is spilling over to this new development.

“We’re already talking to users that want to be in that kind of atmosphere that we don’t have room for over there anymore, and so I think there’s going to be a pretty easy transition over to this.”

Spaghetti Works is about 70 percent pre-leased.

Esterline says after a year of work on the new IMA office building, it’s a relief to finally get work started.

“It’s just fun to see it kind of come together finally.”

He says IMA’s 200 white-collar jobs will be “really pivotal” for downtown.

“If you think about the restaurants going either direction from here . . . that’s going to be just a big pop.”

Esterline says with all the growth in downtown, it’s already getting busy at the peak lunch hour times.

“You may have to go to a restaurant or two to find a seat.”

He says it’s already “fantastic” to see so many Cargill employees out and about along Douglas for lunch or coffee in the mornings. With IMA’s employees, Esterline says, “It’s going to be fun to see that many more people moving around.”

He says it was interesting to watch The Eagle’s time-lapse video of the former Mead’s Corner building being demolished.

“It kind of looks like Cookie Monster eating a cookie. It just takes big bites out of the thing, and then it was gone.”