GEO Foundation turns down Gary bank building

2012-12-11T21:45:00Z 2012-12-11T21:51:04Z GEO Foundation turns down Gary bank buildingBy Carmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

GARY | The president of an Indianapolis-based charter company that manages 21st Century Charter School in Gary has decided against accepting the donation of a downtown Gary bank building.

EFN Gary Property LLC owns the Gary Bank building at 504 Broadway. The company is owned by Edward Napleton, who also owns the Napleton Automotive Group based in Westmont, Ill. The 10-story bank building includes tenants and a 350-car parking garage.

The company originally offered to donate the building to the Gary Community School Corp., but when the school system did not act quickly enough last month, the company began looking at donating the building to other organizations. 

Rick Brandstatter, director of real estate operations for the Napleton Group, could not be reached for comment.

Kevin Teasley, founder and president of the GEO Foundation in Indianapolis, said there were complications surrounding the donation.

"We appreciate the contribution but the building has obligations," Teasley said Tuesday.

"There is a 99-year lease on the roof. It's with a company that has antennas on the roof. The lease was paid up front. There are 89 years left on the lease. We asked if we could have a pro-rated share of the lease, and we were turned down on that. The new owner is obligated to continue the lease. We can't take on an obligation that doesn't have any financial support."

In addition, Teasley said he had architects and engineers inspect the building, and there are numerous things that have to be done to bring the building up to "modern day standards." He said the 85-year-old historic building in downtown Gary has a variety of needs including an HVAC system, boiler, the elevators and the electrical system. Teasley said they had an initial estimate of  $15 million to $20 million.

"It's not an inexpensive proposition to accept that donation," Teasley said. "We were willing to do that under the right circumstances. But we can't take on the building under its current situation plus take on a lease where we would get no financial return. It's an obligation we just can't afford."

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