Vacant to Vibrant
Among the activity in Downtown Evansville lies a movement to preserve the buildings and spaces of the area.
From the Greyhound Bus Terminal to the Owen Block at the corner of Second and Chestnut streets, Evansville is seeing a revitalization of some of its vacant, older properties. Scott Danks and the group Professional Plaza LLC have capitalized on a chance to develop one such building in the heart of Downtown.
In July 2013, Professionals Plaza LLC — a limited liability company of six partners — completed the purchase of the former Evansville Vanderburgh County School Corp.
Administration Building located at 1 S.E. Ninth St. The 42,000-square-foot building closed at a cost of $740,000 and plans for renovation began to take shape almost immediately. Sitting on one-third of the city and county government campus and adjacent from the Civic Center, the building has two floors and a lower level, as well as its own parking lot.
“These are the most exciting times for Downtown in my lifetime,” says Pat Shoulders, a partner at law firm Ziemer, Stayman, Weitzel and Shoulders, LLP in Evansville, who acts as the legal representation for EVSC. “I think the timing, frankly, could not be better. The whole vitality and viability of Downtown is just great and this construction seems to fit the current trend.”
The story of how Professionals Plaza LLC, a private entity, was able to purchase the vacant school corporation building has an air of fate to it and begins almost six years ago. Facing major budget cuts in 2010, former EVSC Superintendent Dr. Vince Bertram and his administration made a decision with the board of school trustees to begin to consolidate some facilities, says Shoulders.
“As a result of that plan, the old administration building was excessed as part of the (move to) what used to be the school corporation warehouse there along Walnut Street,” says Shoulders.
After the move of their administration offices to Walnut Street in 2011, EVSC worked to find a buyer for the former office building, says Shoulders. The corporation was in negotiations with the county government for a time, giving officials the opportunity to acquire the property because of its location on the government campus. There was an interest on the county’s part, but “for whatever reason, the plans were never successful,” says Shoulders.
“We considered alternative plans,” he adds. “We even had developers from Indianapolis take a look at the property in terms of taking it down and making it more parking. They explored it and there didn’t seem to be any thing that could be done.”
The former administration building was listed on the market as a commercial property with Joe Kiefer at Hahn Kiefer Real Estate Services, where it would sit vacant for three years. It would be a chance conversation between Shoulders and Danks that would start the sale talks.
One day the two lawyers, who were each representing clients in a case against one another, walked out of the courthouse and past the EVSC building when Danks, an attorney at Danks & Danks law firm, jokingly asked, “Pat, would the school corporation sell that building to a private developer?”
“When Scott just happened to mention it, I said, ‘Well, let me check first with the school corporation administration and get back to you,’” says Shoulders.
As it would turn out, the corporation was very interested in selling the building and authorized Shoulders to begin talks with Danks. “What you learn is in the world of real estate, the fair market value of a property is what a willing buyer is willing to offer a seller,” says Shoulders. “Scott’s group offered them a price that the board of school trustees was willing to accept and to return to the taxpayers of Vanderburgh County.”
For Danks, his ambition for the development of the plaza is as big as the building itself. He adamantly claims he is not a developer and the time and money used for renovations of the property — now called the Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union (ETFCU) Plaza — is to help preserve it.
“This building was not acquired for anybody to make money off of,” he says. “It was to preserve and protect the use of the building. Our goal is to just break even with it.”
Danks has spent his career working on the government campus in Evansville, starting as an intern for Judge William H. Miller of the Vanderburgh Circuit Court when he was 18 years old. He’s been in the courts building and Civic Center “my entire adult life as an attorney,” he says, and has a love for “our government campus. I wanted to ensure that the former school corporation building did not fall into the wrong hands.”
The building has not yet been marketed and currently holds two tenants; Danks’ law office Danks & Danks and the Downtown office of Evansville Teachers Federal Credit Union.
“Adding a Downtown location was in the best interest of our members,” says Brent Joyce, vice president of marketing with ETFCU. “The opportunity to work with Professionals Plaza originated early in our process of looking to add a Downtown location. We were excited about their plans for the building, and we seemed to share an excitement about how the joint effort could fit into the Downtown area.”
Not only was the credit union interested in occupying a portion of the new office space, Joyce says ETFCU also expressed interest in the naming rights for the building. With a history beginning in Downtown Evansville and founding connections with the school corporation, he says it seemed a natural fit.
“Working with Mr. Danks, we felt a common commitment to the community. We’re excited about where the project is going and what it’s ultimately going to offer Downtown Evansville,” says Joyce.
The investment placed in the renovation has totaled $5 million and has been no small feat for Danks and Professionals Plaza LLC. Upon first touring the building, Danks says the hallways, rooms, and offices reflected the building’s past as a 40-year old school corporation office. He became determined to make ETFCU Plaza Class A office space in Downtown, including mahogany trim, new entrance doorways, attractive office signs, and luxury public restrooms in his renovation designs.
“We’ve done so much to this building,” he says. “We completely gutted it to the walls. We now have state-of-the art technological capabilities, highly-energy efficient HVAC and lighting systems, outdoor and indoor security systems, as well as automatic doors with keyless access.”
Along with the process of renovating the inside, Danks worked to spruce up the outside of the property as well. All new landscaping was added, including new sod, plants, trees, and an irrigation system. The parking lot was redone as well, and during the process, Danks was approached by a city engineer to add another environmentally-friendly aspect to the grounds.
The city approached Danks about a $400,000 grant to install a water retention system to keep rain water out of the city’s combined sewer system, and from flushing the waste into the Ohio River. Danks jumped on board and from there, a 20-foot wide by 20-foot deep pit was built at the back of the parking lot next to Ninth Street.
“It’s filled in with limestone rock and Downtown Evansville sits on a sand bed,” says Danks. “So all that rainwater goes into there and it slowly dissipates out. It’s cool.”
The system collects water from the parking lot, the water run off from ETFCU Plaza’s roof, and from Ninth Street.
Currently, the first floor hallway, bathrooms, and the office space for Danks & Danks and ETFCU is completed. The rest of the space in the building is waiting for the tenants to build out, says Danks. He is looking to fill the space immediately with tenants such as law firms, architects, engineers, or other professionals, but his hope is to find those businesses and individuals who are the right fit for the building.
“We’ve had a huge amount of interest and we haven’t even started marketing yet,” he says. “It’s really the epicenter of Downtown and it’s only going to grow.”
Office space is not the only offering ETFCU Plaza will give Downtown. Danks says he anticipates a restaurant and coffee shop on the first floor, and a fitness center in the lower level of the building. He also has plans with the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana to host a gallery featuring Tri-State artists.
“So far everything is working out great and it will continue to do so, but initially it was scary,” says Danks. “I had no idea what I was getting into, what the cost was going to be. It’s a huge, huge, huge investment.”
For more information about the ETFCU Plaza, contact Scott Danks at 812-459-1655, email at email@example.com, or visit professionalsplazallc.com.
The Last Times
This has been a year of mixed emotions for me. With a son who is a senior in high school, there are many “last times” for virtually everything this year. Attending swim meets, going to dances, and simply hanging out with the old man while knowing he will be leaving in the fall to go to (make a decision, son) college has not been pleasant for me. I do not look forward to my oldest son leaving the house.
My youngest son, in the eighth grade, will not be playing football, basketball, or maybe even baseball after this year in hopes of swimming in a major college program. The last Advent program has come and gone, and with half a year left, soon will grade school, meaning we no longer will be dropping him off every morning at a school our family loves.
In four short years, neither of my sons will be at home. Frankly, I dread what some people look forward to. But, I am reminded of a tapestry that hung over the fireplace of a great friend’s home growing up that simply said, “These are the good ol’ days.” It is a matter of perspective.
I would be surprised if some of you can’t relate with the photo on this page, especially over the holidays. Most people can identify with living a healthier lifestyle prior to Thanksgiving, followed by enjoying a not-so-healthy Thanksgiving break with relatives (hey, it’s tradition). It’s difficult to get back to healthy living while combatting endless festive parties and food. I have heard about this.
In closing, I am genuinely excited about the great things occurring almost simultaneously in our city. I am very appreciative of all of those who support and read this publication. I thank you. May you and your family have a terrific holiday season.
As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
Todd A. Tucker
After nine years as the president and CEO of First Security Bank, M. Lynn Cooper announced his 45 years in banking is coming to a close. Effective Dec. 31, 2015, Cooper will retire and be able to reflect on his time at First Security. He contributed to successful growth of the bank during a difficult economic time, seeing the company expand from two locations in Owensboro, Kentucky, to 11 locations in six markets and two states.
“We were real fortunate and we just had a bunch of good people working hard together for the same common purpose,” says Cooper. “We felt really good about helping people, especially during that time when banks got a little weary about loaning anybody money.”
The University of Evansville graduate, who discussed First Security’s development in the “The Changing Face of Local Banking” in the June/July 2013 issue of Evansville Business, says over the recent years, the growth of First Security is the accomplishment he has been most proud of. Not only did the team quadruple the size of the bank, Cooper says, but they achieved record profits as well.
As his time at First Security draws to a close, Cooper says he will miss interacting and working with a great team of people who “have a big heart,” but he is looking forward to spending more quality time with his family, including eight grandchildren. He also hopes to help others in business and banking try to be more successful and has been approached to serve on several boards, including a corporate board.
“Working at First Security has allowed me to fulfill a dream and a goal,” he says. “(My advice to others) is be confident and persistent in your quest. Act as if it will happen, not considering whether it won’t. And try to find the good in all situations and people.”
For more information about First Security Bank, call 812-759-2332 or visit firstsecurity.net.
After the first concept of the typewriter was introduced in 1714, many inventors set out to make their own version of the writing machine. By 1910, there were 110 companies manufacturing typewriters on the U.S. market. When Bill Shields began selling the machines in the 1950s, that number had dwindled to around five. Today, the manual writing machines may be a thing of the past for business offices, but Shields still proudly keeps a collection of around 30 typewriters.
“I’ve done a lot of business with typewriters,” says the 85-year-old retired salesman and former owner of Business Equipment in Henderson, Kentucky. “They were my livelihood.”
Typewriters have been an integral part of life to both Bill and his son Stan Shields, who now owns and operates Business Equipment. Some were gifts, some Stan pulled from his father’s warehouse before they were thrown out, and others Bill kept after they were traded in for newer models; all have been restored and still are in working order.
“I went into the service and they trained me in office machine repair during the Korean War,” says Bill. “I ended up coming back from Paducah, Kentucky, to Henderson and got a job with a Royal (typewriter) dealer over here for $35 a week. That’s how I got started in the business.”
The first typewriter Bill added to his collection was a No. 5 model Royal made in 1910. Pulling it off the shelf, he hits the keys and smiles as the letters move easily. “This is my favorite — this Royal,” he says. “I always was a Royal man.”
The oldest in the collection is an 1875 Williams typewriter, produced during a time when American inventor Christopher Latham Sholes was tweaking with what is now known as the first commercial typewriter design. The newest machines in their collection are from 1955-1956.
Father and son have kept their collection — which includes at least eight different brands of typewriters — pristine over the years, but both credit the work of a former employee, Bronce Plemans of Henderson, who passed away in 1996, for the typewriters working condition.
“He was a technician for us,” says Stan. “He was a World War II fighter pilot and he was the one who refurbished all of these for me, went through, cleaned them all, got them all working, fixed up, and looking real good. He was one of the most interesting men I’ve ever known.”
It’s been a few years since either man added a machine to the collection and that’s not likely to change any time soon. Though the company has not sold a manual typewriter in decades, the Shields still appreciate the writing machine that was once a staple in their business.
“To me, they’re not worth very much cash money, but they have so much sentimental value because dad traded them all in then Bronce fixed them all up,” says Stan.
For more information about Business Equipment, call 270-826-8341 or visit business-equipment.com.
Ride of a Lifetime
Five years ago, Evansville resident Mike McCutchan was looking for a career change, so he could spend more time at home with his family and maintain approximately the same income.
McCutchan, who was a general sales manager at Patriot Auto Group, agreed to take over ownership of Brad Sullivan’s SUV Limousine service in 2010.
“I always had a passion for vehicles,” says McCutchan, who is a graduate of North High School and Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. “I wanted to trim my hours back so I could be at home with kids and family and watch them play sports. Brad said I could have both those things, and still be able to live my life the way I was then.”
With the help of his wife Melissa, a University of Indianapolis alumna who is originally from Freelandville, Indiana, McCutchan worked part-time at SUV Limousine while continuing to work at the car dealership until 2013.
Since then, McCutchan has focused his complete attention on the luxury service provider by updating his fleet of limousines from five to 12. The limousine package is popular for transporting clients to weddings, proms and formals, bachelor and bachelorette parties, birthdays, sporting events, concerts, and more. Each vehicle includes leather seating, fiber optic lighting, stereo systems, bars with stemware and beverage napkins, and more.
SUV Limousine also introduced a corporate client sedan operation, which is where a majority of their business comes from. Through this service, drivers shuttle clients to and from the airport, meetings, restaurants, events, and more.
“You can’t make all of your money on Saturday. You have to find other ways,” says McCutchan.
SUV Limousine clients have included several celebrities such as Aerosmith, who requested six limousines, Daymond John, Kid Rock, Republican Presidential candidate Ben Carson, Calvin Klein, Queen Latifah, and more.
“These larger companies out of Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York will not work with you, unless you provide the utmost professionalism,” says Melissa. “They are huge companies with huge clients.”
SUV Limousine has up to 20 drivers available at any time with two that are fulltime. Pricing varies by each client through vehicle choice and time used. The business customizes packages to each client’s needs on an individual basis.
“What sets us apart is there are things that happen with these vehicles all the time, and a lot of companies are going to let these things go as long as they can because it’s expensive to maintain,” says Melissa. “That’s one thing we pride ourselves on. The maintenance on our vehicles is meticulous. Our quality of our vehicles is the utmost. Our drivers are the absolute best.”
But what the McCutchans are most proud of is their charity work. SUV Limousine donates limousines to local high schools’ special needs proms, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Challenge Baseball League, nonprofits, and more.
“We truly are about providing transportation for a once-in-a-lifetime event,” says Melissa. “We pride ourselves on making their day more special.”
“Without the people of Evansville, the mechanics, detailers, friends, family, local area businesses, this business would not be possible,” says Mike.
For more information about SUV Limousine, call 812-401-2822 or visit suv-limo.com.
Pedestrian Pathways, Parks, and Plans
After nearly five years, $2 million, and a slew of volunteer hours, Mayor Lloyd Winnecke officially dedicated the new pedestrian bridge crossing the Lloyd Expressway at Vann Avenue on the East Side of Evansville. The completion of the bridge was announced just over one week after Winnecke was re-elected to a second term in office.
The pedestrian bridge made its way into the planning phase of Roberts Park, the newly-named area where Roberts Municipal Stadium stood until early 2013.
“With the bridge’s opening, we now have connected green space from Morgan Avenue and McDonald Golf Course to Lincoln Avenue and the Evansville State Hospital Grounds,” says Winnecke. “As Roberts Park is built out in the coming years, we will have the chance to create a dynamic recreational area that will benefit our entire city, and the bridge is just an integral part of that vision.”
Along with the completion of this project come questions about other projects in correlation to Roberts Park. The Evansville Parks Foundation is funding the construction of a path that will link the south side of the existing parking lot at Roberts Park to the west end of the Division Street. That construction will occur as weather permits, says Winnecke.
A dog park also has been mentioned as part of the overall blueprint for the park.
“We’ve always wanted to include a dog park as part of the overall design of Roberts Park,” says Winnecke. “The initial plans for Roberts Park called for the dog park component to be located on the north side of the expressway.”
Those plans changed after a great deal of feedback during public meetings. Many residents thought the south side of the expressway would be a better a better location for a dog park. After much discussion with stakeholders, a specific location has been designated and the dog park will be designed in consultation with dog enthusiasts.
Winnecke says the feedback he has received on the pedestrian bridge has been very positive so far.
“People appreciate the look of the bridge because it matches the new pedestrian bridge at the interchange of U.S. 41 and the Lloyd, and they love the fact that there is now a safe way to cross the expressway,” he says of the first pedestrian path, which opened Sept. 15. “The bridge has only been open a short while, but I consider the project a success. I’m confident that it will get more and more use as the park develops further.”
For more information about the pedestrian bridge, visit evansvillegov.org.
When seasons change, shorts are exchanged for jeans, tank tops are traded for coats, and flip-flops are swapped for socks and boots. Unfortunately, when thousands of Tri-State residents reach into their closets for these layers, they return empty-handed.
Since 1946, the Santa Clothes Club has provided new, warm clothing for more than 74,000 children and raised nearly $6 million. Today, the organization is headed by Doug Duell, who carries on the tradition his father Dave Duell set serving the club 25 years ago.
“My father became involved with the club 25 years ago and was the president for a long time,” says Duell, who is the owner of Evansville Kia Mazda Volvo and Evansville Hyundai. “When he passed away in 2005, I joined the board and became president this year. There are 18 board members and no one is paid. All of the money goes to the local community.”
The organization services 3,000 needy children in Vanderburgh, Warrick, Gibson, and Posey counties in Indiana, and Henderson County in Kentucky, and provides them with complete sets of clothing that include one pair of jeans, one shirt/top, nine-pack of underwear, 10-pack of socks, gloves, a pair of shoes, and a hooded coat. Board members of Santa Clothes Club, through schools, churches, nonprofit organizations, and private referrals, compile information on the children. Vouchers are mailed to the children in kindergarten through sixth grade to redeem at the East Side Walmart.
“It has been in our family for years and the dealership has worked very closely with the organization,” says Duell. “I’m attracted to it because it’s local, in our area, and 100 percent goes into buying clothes for these kids. Unfortunately, we have a need in the Tri-State and we need to help those kids.”
Fundraising takes place throughout the year with events such as a spaghetti dinner at Biaggi’s, the Dave Duell Memorial Golf Outing, the Santa Clothes Club Telethon, and others.
For more information about Santa Clothes Club, visit its Facebook page.
Many times, the most deserving award recipient is the one who believes she hasn’t earned the accolade.
Such is true of Evansville native Kathy Schoettlin, Old National Bank Executive Vice President and Chief Community Relations Officer, who was named one of eight women honored at the 2015 Torchbearer Awards held by the Indiana Commission for Women in September. The awards ceremony recognizes women of Indiana who are pioneers and leaders in their community and careers.
“I was completely caught off guard,” says Schoettlin, who attended Mater Dei and graduated from the University of Southern Indiana. “(Former Lt. Gov.) Becky Skillman and (ONB President and CEO) Bob Jones nominated me. Those are two people I admire deeply and for them to even consider nominating me, honestly, and to win the award, I was speechless.”
Schoettlin was a 2010 ATHENA Award winner and also was named Big Sister of the Year by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ohio Valley, where she has served as a mentor for years. Her involvement in the community ranges from serving on the board for Indiana Youth Institute, Junior Achievement of Southwestern Indiana, and Public Education Foundation, to serving on leadership teams for many organizations.
Her modesty can be traced back to her beginnings at the Southwestern Indiana Chapter of the American Red Cross, where she first joined as an intern and later spent 14 years with the organization.
Out of the blue, she received a cold call from a recruiter from Old National Bank and she candidly responded: “I don’t even balance my checkbook.” Schoettlin decided she had nothing to lose and began a three-month application process, which led her to meeting Bob Jones and eventually accepting the position.
“Bob said, ‘I don’t want you to be a banker. I want you to be the person who thinks about the community each and every day and what we can do for our community, and bring awareness, and help support the image of Old National,’” says Schoettlin, who lives in rural Posey County with her husband Steve and their three children.
At the bank, she says associates are encouraged to lead by example by volunteering on company time. ONB allots two hours a month for employees.
“There is a difference between allowing and encouraging. We are a community bank and in order to strengthen the communities that we serve, we need to be involved and engaged.”
For more information about Old National Bank, visit oldnational.com.
Modern Craft Banking
When Ohio Valley Financial Group merged with BankTrust Financial to create Field & Main Bank in January 2014, a new look was needed to match the new brand.
Chairman and CEO Scott Davis says when clients walk into Field & Main at 140 N. Main St. in Henderson, Kentucky, he wants them to feel connected with their banker and at home in the space. Field & Main has multiple branches in Henderson and a location on Evansville’s Burkhardt Road.
“With the new name came a new brand, a new logo, new look, new everything that was all built around our tagline which is Modern Craft Banking,” says Danielle Falconer, senior vice president of marketing and communications. “It’s all about being relevant in modern times with an appreciation for that tailored experience that you would get from a craft brewery or a boutique where the people who own the place have a passion for what they do.”
With a modern design, comfortable seating placed in front of a fireplace with a perfect view of wallpaper reminiscent of Kentucky’s own agriculture, a technology bar complete with iPhones, iPads, Mac computers, and a PC, and an untraditional teller line placed under speakers playing modern folk music, Field & Main has worked to ensure their clients’ time is enjoyable.
To create this tailored experience, Field & Main worked with New Ground, a design and building company based in St. Louis, Missouri, that specializes in financial institutions.
Instead of creating a traditional teller line you would normally see at a bank, New Ground installed relationship banking pods where the relationship banker and the client interact face-to-face, using the same computer, without a wall between them.
The technology bar was created allowing relationship bankers and clients to easily walk over from the pods and set up an online or mobile bank account on whichever device works best for the client.
“We want people to feel connected with their experience of banking with Field & Main,” says Davis. “One of the reasons we wanted to make this overhaul is that banking is a very personal thing and the traditional model created an unnecessary barrier between the banker and the customer.”
The relaxed, personal feel of Field & Main isn’t limited to the lobby. Davis’ office is personalized to suit him with one full wall covered with a scribbled on dry erase board, a dinner table instead of a computer desk topped with a MacBook Pro instead of a desktop computer, and a cozy seating area with two chairs and a Beatles “Yellow Submarine” acoustic guitar.
“I want people to see aspects of my personality because it may be a chord they could connect with,” says Davis. “I want people to feel that they are in a place that is open, engaged, and where people honor their relationship.”
For more information on Field & Main Bank, call 888-831-1500 or visit fieldandmain.com.
Lori Anderson’s workdays begin around 7 a.m. when she arrives at the home of Mariline, 88, and Roy, 89, on the North Side. She prepares breakfast for Mariline, and afterward, her day consists of cleaning up around the house, making meal plans and grocery lists, and spending time with Mariline.
Anderson is a CAREGiver with Home Instead, located at 223 N.W. Second St. Ste. 310. CAREGivers specialize in the personal care industry, attending to individuals in their homes in order to enhance their quality of life so they can remain independent for as long as possible.
The Boonville, Indiana, native and current Evansville resident’s resume is varied. A graduate of Boonville High School and a former University of Southern Indiana student, she’s worked in the cashier’s office at USI, as a legal assistant for Biesecker Dutkanych & Macer, LLC, and a bread baker at Vecchio’s Italian Market all before joining Home Instead in 2011. During her almost-five years with the company she’s cared for two long-term clients; Anderson has been with Mariline and Roy for almost three years.
“I know a lot of people go other places every day … but I like the same gig continuously,” she says. “I like to get to know them, I like to get to know their routines, what they like, and what they don’t like.”
To Anderson, working in the personal care industry is more than just helping clients with chores, daily activities, and more. She enjoys cooking and fixing the couple their favorite meals, but also says spending her day getting to know Mariline and Roy and hearing their stories is a great aspect of her job.
“I’ve had some really special clients. It’s just interesting to listen to some of this stuff,” says Anderson. “The last couple I was with, man, they could tell some stories. (Mariline and Roy) are the same way. That’s something I think is good for them, too.”
For more information about Home Instead, call 812-471-0050 or visit homeinstead.com/Evansville.