Kunkel Group has their say about latest McCurdy Debacle: Letter to the Editor


kunkel group

Dear Editor-

I’d like to give you an update on the McCurdy. While I would prefer to stay out of the media, there comes a time when you must speak up for yourself.

After waiting over a year for our HUD deal to get approved, we’ve instead decided to go in a different direction due to the increase in interest rates and cash required to close. Instead, we are pursuing a more traditional financing structure from a couple different lenders. We expect to have that approved here in 60 days. We have partnered with a firm out of Chicago to help facilitate the transaction.

As you saw on the news the other night, the city has squarely placed a target on our back. To put it bluntly, it’s political arm twisting at it’s worst and it is related to the IU Med School.

Two of our buildings were deemed “unsafe” today. This is very interesting timing since three weeks ago we rebuffed the city’s request for us to give them an option on some of our downtown properties for the Med School site they prefer. We said we would like to respond to an RFP as a developer and their realtor said they already have a preferred developer in mind. He stated they will not support us on this project. The mayor corroborated this to us a few days later.

We are also getting grief from Area Plan now over some marketing signs we have throughout the city, and some fence heights for some storage yards. Metropolitan Development and the City Attorney are piling on as well. From our perspective, it is an all out assault on us to willfully give up our property that we’ve been investing in for 10 years downtown.

We are a locally owned family business. Ben and I are products of the EVSC school system and Ball St and Indiana University, respectively. We chose to come back home and try to make a difference in this town. We paid our way through school and started this business quite humbly with a couple of computers and some fresh ideas. We now employ over 100 people and own almost 3 million sq ft of real estate in town. We’ve taken risks and invested our own dollars into areas of the city that were long forgotten.

Entrepreneurship is not always easy. We do not claim to be perfect…far from it. Managing growth has been a challenge at times, but we truly feel the community (and the people that work for us) are better off because of the work we’ve done.

We choose to go home to our families and do not socialize with the select few that have held this city back for decades at the country club. The CCO has spoken extensively on the brain drain and inability to recruit and keep young talent in Evansville. The mayor campaigned on cutting red tape and being
business friendly. Are we not exactly who they should be supporting?

We completely understand the “McCurdy fatigue” the community feels. We absolutely agree. Keep in mind we were not owners of the property until about a year ago. It has taken longer to come to fruition than we have hoped, but we have refurbished 5 vacant structures downtown so I would hope our track record would mean something. The JC Penney building was full or pigeons and peeling paint and sat vacant for 25 years. Dejongs had 6 feet of water in the basement.

Welborn Hospital sat vacant for 7 years, and on and on…These refurbished
properties have dramatically increased the tax base downtown and improved the
overall cityscape.

To be clear, we will take the necessary steps to correct any issues with our property. These issues are by no means major and could have been corrected through an informal phone call (as they have in the past), but the City evidently wanted to put on a show by holding a public meeting and inviting the media. Believe me- No one wants to see the McCurdy succeed more than The Kunkel Group. Owning a vacant building does us no good. With a little more patience, it can and will happen.

All the best,

Adam Kunkel
Vice President
The Kunkel Group


  1. Surely Mayor McClintock isn’t like that. He just wants what’s best for the downtown investors, even if they are his friends and relatives.

  2. Whoa. So this is what it looks like when government turns on someone. Which sweetheart developer for IU does Winnecke and his drones have in mind?

    Fight like the dickens, Lloyd. Fight like the dickens.

  3. This is one reason why I’m usually reluctant to join the flurry of people baying for blood when a property falls into some measure of disrepair. By rushing to show how “bad” a property is, we could just be playing into the hands of those who want to see it torn down. The sword is always double-edged. Beware of that second cut.

    • BAM! Get a few nickels for a property, let it go to tax sale? Oh isn’t this in disrepair? Let’s tear it down. Like Robert’s Stadium, or Robert’s Dog Poo Acres.

  4. Evansville’s Elitists have a Hero!
    –“Winnecke the Creep”,–What a Quality Guy, honest, forthright, loaded with integrity, he should win reelection by a landslide.
    Evansville Leadership at it’s finest.

  5. The Kunkle position would be stronger if they had closed and fixed the McCurdy’s broken windows over the past year they owned it. That said, the City’s actions suggest retaliation or another motive. If the City now wants to bury their 5 year+ mishandling of the McCurdy by ultimately having it demolished like the Executive Inn and Roberts Stadium, the City needs a fall guy to take the blame.

  6. This part of the Kunkel letter raised an interesting question:
    “We said we would like to respond to an RFP as a developer and their realtor said they already have a preferred developer in mind.”
    Who is the city’s “realtor”, and how did they get that job?

    • Not only that, but did the “preferred developer” have to submit a bid of any kind? A plan? Or did the just gain this status because of whose bollocks they tickle?

    • ‘Who is the city’s “realtor”, and how did they get that job?’

      F.C.T. /// Merit.

  7. I agree with the take on the city’s bullying however…Kunkel mentioned everything but the undeniable fact they have let that historic old building rot. Plenty of misdirection about their other activities downtown but not much (other than ‘we’ve just owned it a year’) to address letting the McCurdy crumble while they scramble for financing.

    I hope the McCurdy doesn’t become collateral damage in the mayor’s avowed determination to ‘fight like the dickens’ to site the medical school downtown.

  8. The McCurdy,and it’s $603,000 dollar parking lot, IS collateral damage, as a result of the Weinzapfel “The Magnificent” administration, and it’s impeccable “Leader”.
    Just another example of Politicos in Evansville, and their progress in keeping her—under “control”..

  9. Kunkel sure did benefit from their preferred developer relationship with Weinzapfel. It looks like Winnecke is not carrying on the Weinzapfel tradition of keeping Kunkel busy with crony jobs. That being said, what the city is doing to Kunkel by using code as a weapon is horrible. Any they are lying about it to boot. Barack Hussein Winnecke has spoken so it must be true.

  10. This article, to a T, sums up perfectly how I feel about things around here. And truer words have never been spoken with regards to the “in” crowd holding back the city for longer than I’ve been alive. Of course, if you listen to them, they’re the ones with the bold visions, we’re all just being negative for not going along with their self gratifying plans.

    Of all the Kunkel developments, I would have to say the Old Whirlpool building for it’s size and history and the Old Knights of Columbus Hall, for its drastic turnaround are my two favorites.

    If the city was indeed inquiring about the old Welborn Hospital, how ironic would it be for the city to suddenly have found an adaptive reuse for a building AFTER it found an adaptive reuse. And how can it be that this building can be used for a med school long after the medical guts have been ripped out of it yet Old North isn’t compatible?

    The thing that I find the most sickening of it all is how Winnecke & Co use old buildings to their personal advantage time and time again. How you treat things that don’t benefit you directly is how you can determine just what type of character you have.

    • Dude, they’re not going to reuse Wellborn. If they did locate there, it would be completely redeveloped, meaning millions for acquisition, demolition, and land clearing before a single cornerstone is laid. IU already said somewhere they aren’t interested in repurposed properties.

        • I don’t recall where I read it. Sorry. I suppose I could be wrong, but if you’re in IU’s position, you’ll go for a brand new built-to-suit complex. I think you can safely assume a new build. It will cost the most, i.e. reward the maximum number of cronies, and give downtown the best chance to compete.

          • Spin spin spin. Besides if old north is out of the equation the old central lot is the correct location with it’s proximity to deaconess, historic apartment complexes, and the potential to construct a bell tower famous that would represent the number one design image of downtown which would serve as a recruiting tool for the whole region.

          • Jordan, no one has alive today has nostalgia for that bell tower. I agree the Old Central High site makes more sense on a map, but I’ve stopped trying to find the sense in anything that happens in Evansville.

            I’m not trying to spin anything. I’m just giving my honest thinking.

      • I just finished reading the RFP, and there is great emphasis on sustainability and efficiency of the building. I can’t think there would be any retro-fitting of an old building that would meet specifications.
        Other points I find interesting is that emphasis is placed on space for expansion, “safety and security”, and landscaping and screening of the site. A “chemistry” between the University and developer is mentioned, as well as locating the Center in a place that is “conducive to other new and existing learning facilities” to promote educational and research collaboration. (Like the existing USI or UE campuses, or St. Mary’s and Gateway.)
        I don’t think that the City’s record of “sloppy bookkeeping” is going to be a big plus for a downtown location, either.
        Since reading the RFP, I would guess that the USI site has an inside track, followed either by Warrick County or the Promenade. I am having a great deal of difficulty visualizing a downtown location that meets the stated needs. I wonder if the Mayor has kept plans “top secret” because he really doesn’t have any.
        At any rate, Mayor Winnecke is looking pretty “shady” with his property scout from F.C. Tucker, and that can’t work in his favor.

        • Sustainability has more to do with urban planning than the building itself which would be retrofitted anyways. Building next to a smart growth neighborhood good building next to a sprawling wasteful interstate not so much

  11. Rails , what I find most sickening about it all is everything that they’ve done is costing taxpayers out the buttocks , and the state and Feds. is letting them get away with it …winnecke is just as bad as the previous ars wipe we had .while our troops were fighting terrorists across the pond we had a different type of terrorist sneaking in the back door

  12. Maybe the Kunkel Group can address the fact that the city is screaming that there isn’t enough hotel space downtown, and Kunkel is plowing ahead with an idea to turn a grand hotel into an apartment building?

    Would Louisville had been better served if the Seelbach or Brown was turned into apartments? Of course not, so why are we passing on the opportunity to have a beautifully restored hotel overlooking our riverfront?

    Someone might want to look at the rates restored hotels of this caliber are currently bringing in.

    What assurances do we have that if apartment fills aren’t sufficient that Kunkel won’t reduce rents or go after Section 8? Remember the Rathbone….initially redeveloped as luxury apartments, couldn’t keep it full, so the rents reduced and it eventually slid into a less than desirable residence.

    • The downtown hotel market will be oversaturated with the new convention hotel. The McCurdy wouldn’t survive as a hotel, even with a grade-A restoration. I wish Kunkel the best, but I’m skeptical of its survival as an apartment building as well. I don’t see a huge waiting list for apartments in downtown. The new convention hotel will come with apartments and last I checked, there are still empty loft apartments on Main St.

      I created a map during the hotel debacle which showed all of FC Tucker’s downtown properties. they have several million in apartments for sale or rent.

      With the destruction of McCurdy, two birds would be killed – the Mayor would steal a Riverfront-facing property for his Quixotic IU downtown fixation, and the wife’s firm, not to mention HCW, would take out a rival apartment development.

  13. Possible Breaking News. City to select Greyhound bus station site to build new IU Medical School.

    • Except the city doesn’t pick the site, IU does. It, like all of the other downtown sites is not suited to the specs in the RFP, by a longshot.

      • I looked at that site briefly in my “mapping” article a while back. I don’t think it’s going to cut it on its own. It would seem the Regime’s “plan” is a piecemeal one, a building here, another there, etc. I think that’s a recipe for rejection.

        At this stage, I’m most interested in the fact there appears to be at least two Evansville-based private developers intent on competing against the city for the contract. I suspect the code violations are just the first salvo in a larger political war that will continue to rage through the next election. There is something dearly wrong with a situation in which an Administration just picks a preferred “team” to use the public money juggernaught to run roughshod over private, homegrown companies. Is there really a Republican left in this town who actually backs this crap?


  14. None of us like people who do not play by the rules. Mr. Kunkel, playing by the rules means paying your property taxes so the rest of us do not have to take up the slack.

    Just a cursory look at your properties shows that you have paid nothing so far this year on your properties at: McCurdy Development 100 SE Riverside Dr., Walker Building 401 SE Sixth Street, former Unclaimed Freight Building 1616 South Governor, 322 Waggoner Avenue, 12539 Apache Pass, just to name a few.

    There have also been some people on this site and the C&P website who say that you are very slow to pay suppliers and contractors who work for you. That is not playing by the rules either.

    Mayor Weinzapfel gave you guys every break in the books during his two terms, and we know that Mayor Winnecke has a great affinity for Mr. Weinzapfel, but enough is enough.

    We all need to play by the same rules in this town.


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