Vehicles travel along Green River Road, which runs north to south underneath the Lloyd Expressway, in Evansville, Ind., Wednesday afternoon, July 14, 2021. Sam Owens/Courier & Press
Vehicles travel along Green River Road, which runs north to south underneath the Lloyd Expressway, in Evansville, Ind., Wednesday afternoon, July 14, 2021. Sam Owens/Courier & Press
EVANSVILLE — Green River Road’s commercial southern end has seen plenty of vacancies, and it lacks the polish of North Green River and North Burkhardt roads, where developments are newer.

But for small businesses, nonprofits and others, South Green River remains a corridor of opportunity, according to commercial real estate agents.

“That area’s doing fine; it’s percolating back up,” said Scott Hyatt of Summit Real Estate Services. “There’s money being put into a lot of those buildings.”

Hyatt and others predicted more investment will come to South Green River in the near and long term. They noted the road’s good vehicle traffic and comparative affordability.

A look at Green River Road

Wayne Kinney of Evansville and his family own several parcels on and near the corridor, including the lot where Shyler’s, a popular local barbecue restaurant, burned and was razed nearly a decade ago.

Kinney’s daughter owns Tools 4 Teaching at 401 S. Green River Road, a supply store in a former florist shop. Tools 4 Teaching is the only store of its kind in the region, Kinney said, and it has several items for teachers who work with people with disabilities.

Kinney said an office building with disability services would be a good fit next door, in the former Shyler's lot, and “that is most likely what I’m going to build there.”

Kinney owns Hoosier Burger Co., a locally owned restaurant at 325 S. Green River, as well as the closed Wok N’ Roll location at 311 S. Green River. The latter building will have a new occupant soon, Kinney said. He declined to specify the tenant.

The building is under contract, and “someone will be eating there in 6-8 weeks,” he said.

Over time, Kinney said, the 300 and 400 blocks of South Green River "are going to be significantly redone."

Washington Square Mall also is getting a large new occupant.

Sometime in the future, Goodwill Industries will leave its store and donation center at 500 S. Green River Road and move to Washington Square Mall’s former Sears space.

Goodwill has bought the Sears section of the mostly empty mall property, which opened in 1963.

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“It’s three times the size of our current location,” said Connie Ralph, president and CEO. “It may be 2-3 years before we complete the remodel, but that is our plan."

Lawndale Commons, where Schnucks relocated three years ago, has a new owner, Brookwood Capital Advisors of Nashville. The company has brought in flea market and bargain store concepts.

“There’s some money behind that," Hyatt said. "I think it’s going to be fine. It has some inherent problems because of its age and size of the retail space, but I think it’s going to be fine.”

The former Schnucks building at Washington Avenue and Green River, meanwhile, is remodeled and gradually filling up. Work One, the state agency that assists residents with unemployment, moved there last summer.

For Goodwill, the future relocation to Washington Square Mall "is a chance for us to be part of reinvigorating that southern part of Green River Road, with the new Schnucks and Work One,” Ralph said.

Goodwill's move, however, also will create another empty building on South Green River Road a few blocks away. Some empty spaces on the corridor have been filled, but others have lingered on the market.

Oakland City University abandoned a prominent building at 110 S. Green River, in the shadow of Lloyd Expressway. It was labeled OCU's "Evansville Center," but it's now surrounded by weeds and letters are peeling off its façade.

OCU remains the property owner, and the university is shopping the building. OCU moved its Evansville office to a Downtown suite.

Computers Plus left South Green River Road for The Promenade, and Marshall's, on North Green River near Lloyd, will soon do the same.

Brokers, though, said South Green River Road still breeds success stories. The days of Sir Beef are gone, but locally-owned restaurants such as Pangea Kitchen, Hoosier Burger and Yak & Yeti Himalayan Cuisine have built their clientele along the corridor.

Mele's Diner, on Green River just north of Lloyd, moved into a closed Wendy's and also has a following.

Pangea Kitchen is in a shopping center flanked by Brinker's Jewelers and fitness studios. "That is a great mix of tenants," Hyatt said. "It’s a great mix, and the Brinkers have put a lot of money into it."

Agents said cost is important for many entrepreneurs, and that issue works in South Green River's favor. They said commercial spaces on North Burkhardt and North Green River can run $3 to $5 more per square foot than those on South Green River.

Green River Road's southern end "has some strength, but it’s not what you have on Burkhardt and North Green River," said Joe Kiefer with Hahn Kiefer Real Estate Services. "It is suffering a bit, but it’s not by any means dead. It’s a different type of market."

For the last 18 years, Doros Hadjisavva's Acropolis Restaurant enjoyed success at 501 N. Green River, just north of Lloyd. But he shut down the location recently, placing another large empty building on the market.

Hadjisavva bought the former Western Ribeye location on Boeke Road, where his catering operations are located. After a long run in the daily restaurant game, he and his wife decided it was time to refocus.

"It’s just not for me anymore, because we have two daughters in college, and I want to be able to have my weekends available to visit them and everything," Hadjisavva said.

He said the couple's decision had nothing to do with the Green River Road location, however. Acropolis did well there, Hadjisavva said, and the property's next occupant will, too.

He noted its proximity to Eastland Mall, which has some empty spaces but has hung onto anchor tenants such as Dillard's, JC Penney and Macy's.

Barnes & Noble, at South Green River and Lincoln Avenue, is still going strong as well.

"It was good, it brought us where we are," Hadjisavva said. "(The decision to leave) has nothing to do with the location. I wish I was 10 years younger. I would still be there, with bells on."

Hadjisavva owns the two-story Acropolis property and hopes to find a new occupant soon. He's open to ideas. The listed sale price is $1.4 million, and the lease price is $9,500 a month.

"Whoever is going to take it over, and we have a couple of people looking at it, it’s going to do great," he said. "Green River Road, to me, is still the best place to be."

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