If we build it, will they come?
The "build" being a speculative structure on an East Side industrial site, and the "they" being new industry.
The Greencastle Redevelopment Commission is recommending that the city take that chance by constructing a shell building on the Sgt. Cunningham property north of Ind. 240 off Fillmore Road.
It's a different strategy than the city has used in the past. The vacant industrial site has been shown to different companies through the years, but has had no takers. Having what is known as a "shovel-ready site" could be the bait that lands the fish.
"I know it may be stepping outside our comfort zone," Mayor Nancy Michael said Wednesday to Redevelopment Commission members Gwen Morris, Steve Gauly, Erika Gilmore, Jim Ruark and John O'Hair, "but it puts us in a position to try to bring jobs to the community by having something there."
The 50,000-square-foot building proposed to the city by Garmong Construction Services would include a 24-foot minimum ceiling height, four docks, and the capacity to be extended to 120,000-square-feet of floor space. Garmong would also be marketing the building to potential industry, as would the Greencastle/Putnam County Development Center.
The building might sit empty for a while, GDC director Bill Dory acknowledged, but other communities, such as Shelbyville, have tried this approach and been successful. Having a shell building that can be easily converted to whatever use is needed could be the main attraction for an industry looking to locate in the area.
Mayor Michael pointed out that while the Oxford Automotive building is sitting empty, it is a lot harder to market than a shell building would be. The existing plant is older and has a lot of work that needs to be done, not to mention many modifications that could be made easier in a new building.
"Anyone who thinks it is a fast sell is not looking at the issues there," Michael said of the Oxford site.
Dory said a road constructed to the Sgt. Cunningham site behind the current Lear Corp. building is definitely needed since that will make the land easier to access and sell.
Dory noted that the GDC board has discussed the shell building concept and opinion was positive. He recommended discussing the project with the city council.
Commission member O'Hair agreed that city council approval of the project is needed.
"We've not had many at-bats recently," O'Hair said of potential industry newcomers, "but unless we move out on this, we may not get any more."
O'Hair made a motion to take the proposal to the city council. Fellow members Morris, Gauly, Gilmore and Ruark agreed.