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Software firm plans to move downtown

Aptera Software co-founders Conrad Ehinger, left, and President TK Herman. The company's goal is to draw more “creative class” employees with their company's new downtown location.
Aptera Software co-founders Conrad Ehinger, left, and President TK Herman. The company's goal is to draw more “creative class” employees with their company's new downtown location.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Aptera agrees to buy building near Harrison Square, will add 15 jobs.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008 10:31 am
With completion at least a year away, it's too early to know whether Harrison Square will unleash the hoped-for flood of economic activity downtown. But even the promise of a revival was enough to lure a growing computer firm in from the suburbs.“We're very excited about (what's happening downtown),” and we want to make our office there a showcase,” said TK Herman, president and co-founder of Aptera Software, which has reached an agreement to buy and renovate the vacant 12,000-square-foot building at Main and Harrison streets at a cost of about $900,000. The two-story building last housed the Ash Brokerage, and in the 1960s and '70s was home to the Cat's Meow nightclub. Renovations should begin within two weeks and the move complete by August.

The company has 24 employees, saw its revenue increase 45 percent last year and expects another 65 percent jump this year - one reason Herman is planning a 15-job expansion and branch offices in other cities. But the move downtown from the company's 2,000-square-foot office at 423 Airport Office Park Drive North will provide more than room for expansion, Herman said. The new headquarters - which one day will be just blocks from the $125 million-$160 million Harrison Square project - should also help Aptera attract and keep customers and so-called “creative class” employees often drawn to larger cities. Aptera's average employee is about 29 years old.

“This (project) will bring a whole different dynamic downtown. When clients walk in, they need to say, ‘This is a company I want to work with.' And when would-be employees walk in, I want them to say, ‘Wow!'” Herman said. “I've never been to a Wizards (baseball) game, but if it weren't for Harrison Square, we wouldn't be as interested in downtown. In five years, it should be the place to be.” Harrison Square will include a minor-league baseball stadium, condominiums, shops, a hotel and other features.

Developer Bill Bean, who is selling the building to Aptera, said the high-tech firm will be a perfect fit.

“A number of people (including law offices) looked at the building, but we really weren't interested in subdividing it. Aptera was a little more interesting to us because the company fits in more with the type of jobs the city is trying to attract downtown,” said Bean, who recently bought the Metro Building at 202 W. Berry St. downtown and owns more than 2 million square feet of commercial and industrial space in Fort Wayne. “This is a win for them and a win for downtown.”

According to its Web site, Aptera “specializes in helping companies use technology to become more efficient and competitive.” The company creates custom computer software, designs Web pages and creates other computer-related programs and products.

Government incentives could include an $8,000 grant and up to $15,000 for exterior improvements. Herman said he may also seek tax abatements and other incentives to help lower the cost of the project. Initially the company plans to use 8,000 square feet and make the remaining 4,000 square feet available for lease - until the company needs it.

That may not be long because, as Bean sees it, downtown real estate is fast becoming a hot commodity. “There's absolutely no doubt about it,” said Bean, who bought the First Source Center at 200 E. Main St. four years ago.

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