Tech companies at every stage have been known to create office space where form and function are one in the same. Young startups may choose open coworking spaces that allow for flexibility in use and increase team collaboration. Enterprise tech companies have the ability to build out an office building that suits their needs from the ground up.

Scale-up companies – those emerging, younger, high-growth companies that are past start-up stage – are somewhere in between. They need more space than what a coworking facility can provide, but they don’t want to let real estate contracts decide their business aspirations for them. What if they land a few large clients and need to double the size of the engineering team, but they can’t acquire more space to house them?

Opening in Q1 2017, The Union will address these unique space needs to help scale-ups continue to grow and create jobs in Indianapolis with greater ease.


Located at 525 S. Meridian Street, nestled in between Tow Yard Brewing and Lucas Oil Stadium, The Union occupies The Brougher Building, a 121-year-old building comprised of 122,000 square feet. The space is being reconstructed to provide custom, short-term leases adaptable to the needs of fast-growing scale-up companies.

Understanding a scale-up’s needs

The idea originated when John Hurley, CEO of SmartFile, realized he wasn’t the only one to experience the challenge of finding appropriate office space for his company. The file-management software firm boasts more than 1,400 customers and currently employs 50 people, with plans to grow rapidly over the next few years.

John Hurley

John HurleyCEO

“Most companies aren’t sure where they will be in the next two years, much less five,” said Hurley. “Having a location that enables short-term leases with turnkey, immediate workspace that scales in size instantly is atypical to real estate.”

To date, $10 million has been invested into the building through Hurley and three other real estate investors.

The Union is currently at 90 percent capacity. SmartFile will move all of their operations from The Stutz Building to The Union in January, and health tech company Springbuk has already moved in.

Each 5,000 square foot office suite includes:

  • Customizable, short leases adaptable to the needs of growing companies
  • Utilities are always included with rental space payment each month
  • Free parking for every tenant company
  • Moveable walls for easy expansion of office space within the office suite
  • Complete kitchenette (sink, cabinets and stainless steel appliances), including a movable center island for events
  • Conference rooms comprise of two large rooms with whiteboards and TV mounts, added data and electrical wiring, and two smaller breakout rooms for calls or small meetings
  • Business class internet connectivity with VOIP and hosting services, provided by LightBound
  • Secure access to the building 24/7 with keycard access for each employee

Location, location, location

The Union’s location was a strategic decision with three outcomes in mind. The first intention was to offer scale-up tech companies access to downtown Indianapolis without the high cost of overhead that could come with other traditional office buildings, allowing them to scale quicker with agile business flow.

The second intention is to increase collaboration between scale-ups and anchor institutions such as Eli Lilly, Rolls-Royce and Cummins — high-paying employers in Indiana that focus heavily on research and development. The Union sits on former Eli Lilly property and its close proximity to the current Eli Lilly campus and other anchor institutions could lead to innovations in the Internet of Things space.

The Union is located in the revitalized south downtown area nestled among long-time anchor employers and new growth and development.
The Union is located in the revitalized south downtown area nestled among long-time anchor employers and new growth and development.

The third intention was to revitalize an untapped corridor of downtown Indianapolis. CityWay, The Alexander Hotel and the YMCA started the trend in 2012 by creating new avenues for underutilized Eli Lilly property. Now, that area is a destination. Placing The Union within walking distance of Monument Circle, the convention center and several hotels was intentional. “It takes an initiative like this to bring in partnerships with other companies. We know this will be a game changer for this south corridor,” said Hurley.

“The Union’s location was a strategic decision for Springbuk. It offers a direct connection to the technology ecosystem, and allows us to be flexible as we scale quickly and grow our team,” said Phil Daniels, Co-Founder and Vice President of Springbuk.

“We’re also excited with the possibility of increased collaboration between scale-ups and anchor institutions that could lead to innovations in the health analytics space.”

History defining 21st century innovation

Not all new ideas require new construction. The very needs The Union addresses stem from historical context in the same building The Union occupies.

Emmerich Manual High School was established in 1891 to combine traditional curriculum, such as mathematics, science and Greek, with courses in manual skills, such as mechanics, drafting and home nursing, and later, technology. Originally known as The Industrial Trading School, it quickly gained national attention as a successful education experiment for bridging the gap between high school education and job readiness.


Much of the school-house features are still intact, and the group of investors worked to maintain the history, repurposing the location and its original architecture, including keeping the gymnasium, courtyard, and original bell towers.

Hurley believes that The Union is a much-needed addition that will help scale-up companies create jobs, win customers and acquire the talent they need to grow fast. “The Union is the first of its kind in Indiana and could transform the way businesses find residence all over the United States.”

For more information about The Union, visit