Building shell considered as job attraction

Friday, May 26, 2006

City officials look to bring in more jobs to Greencastle with a possible new marketing strategy for the east side area known as the Sgt. Cunningham property.

At a Greencastle Redevelopment Commission meeting Wednesday, officials with developer Garmong Construction Services described what a shell building intended to entice an industrial occupant would look like on the site north of Lear Corp.

The 50,000-square foot building would include a 60-foot concrete truck pad, future office space, a 30- by 40-foot bay, 24-foot minimum ceiling height, four docks, a rotational heating system, translucent panels for day lighting, an attractive road-side entrance and one 14-foot wide by 16-foot high drive-in door and single slope roof. It would also have no floor and the capacity to be extended to 120,000-square feet of floor space.

The strategy behind constructing the shell would to allow a buyer to finish out the bundling to their own specifications while also putting the business on the "fast track" toward starting production.

Construction of the empty building would be up to Garmong, while the city would have a say in who actually buys the industrial site.

"The city would provide the site and Garmong would build the shell," Greencastle/Putnam County Development Center Director Bill Dory said. "Then, we would jointly market it to find a business to occupy the building."

Hopefully, that would also bring in a new corporation soon.

"The best situation would be to market the project before construction even starts," Dory said. "But it will be more likely that it will be 1-3 years to find a suitable tenant."

A suitable tenant would be a company that brings in a number of jobs to the area in addition to increasing the tax base.

Ideally, Dory said, the city would like to see some kind of light manufacturing or assembly or distribution business on the site.

"We want someone who will bring in jobs, someone who is a good match for the community," he said.

Dory said over the last 10-12 years, the city of Shelbyville has had success marketing several properties through the construction of shell buildings.

He pointed out, the facility is a good way to attract businesses to visit Greencastle, because even if they don't want to purchase the Sgt. Cunningham site, they may see another property they like while they are here.

Currently, he said, there is one other similar building constructed in Terre Haute, although it is a larger site at 86,000-square feet and would attract a different kind of business than Greencastle is looking to bring in.

Dory said this would make the property unique among western Indiana counties and attractive for businesses looking to supply nearby industrial facilities in Indianapolis. It would also be located close to the Indianapolis International Airport and overnight-shipping.

Although the land was donated to Greencastle by IBM when the corporation left in 1987, according to state statute, the city will need to have it appraised and then incorporate the value into the price offered to potential buyers.

Engineering and land appraisals still have to be established in order for a firm price of the project to be confirmed, Dory said. However, initial costs to build and sell the shell building as well as make improvements to the site, such as a road extension, could range between $1.8 and $2 million.

In the long run, Dory said costs would be recouped in the sale of the site, as well as in the additional tax revenue.

Dory also said this will not prevent city from marketing other vacant facilities such as the former Oxford Automotive site on the west side of town and the former TechnoTrim building south of Lear Corp.

Both facilities, he said, are currently being used as storage, and the city will continue to look for more permanent, job creating tenants.

The Redevelopment Commission has yet to vote on whether to commit to the project. It's next meeting will be a special session at 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 14 at City Hall.

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