Clay County developer Brad Emmert told members of the Greencastle Redevelopment Commission Wednesday night that he wants to build an apartment complex on farmland located directly behind the Wal-Mart supercenter. He said he has been looking for a site in Greencastle for about a year.
"We feel there is a good need for newer units here in town," Emmert said.
Emmert owns a 150-unit apartment complex on Ind. 59 south of Brazil and wants to build 60 units, to start with, in Greencastle. He hopes to eventually expand to 180 units in Greencastle if demand dictates. Each unit will have one, two or three bedrooms.
Emmert already owns several properties in Greencastle along with the Timberland Lumber Co. in Brazil. Emmert said his apartments will be rented at the market rate, meaning they will not be low-income or subsided. He estimates the completed complex to have a value of around $9 million.
"We build them. We manage them. It's kind of a complete package," Emmert said.
On Wednesday, Emmert asked the redevelopment commission to help him build a road connecting to the property behind Wal-Mart. Currently Calbert Way dead ends at Wal-Mart, but Emmert wants to extend it southward to connect with the apartments behind the store.
Emmert estimated it would cost $210,000 to build the road along with sewer and water utilities. He said he would be willing to front the cost. However, he asked the commission to reimburse him, over time, by creating a Tax Increment Financing district, or TIF district, around the apartment land and using the tax money that is captured to pay back the cost of the road.
Greencastle/Putnam County Development Center Director Bill Dory said he is aware of similar arrangements in other cities.
But commission members appeared to be reluctant to grant Emmert's request.
"There's a lot of discussion," commission member John O'Hair said.
He said he worries that if the city agrees to reimburse Emmert for costs associated with his development, it would set a precedent for other developers to come with hands out to the city. Normally the city requires developers to pay for street improvements.
"It does set a precedent," O'Hair said.
Greencastle Mayor Nancy Michael asked Emmert if he would be willing to share the cost of the road with the city, rather than be reimbursed for the full amount.
"I'm open to anything," Emmert responded.
Commission member Erika Gilmore added her concern that even if the board agrees to reimburse Emmert for the road, there's no guarantee the project itself will gain city approval.
The land Emmert is seeking to purchase is currently zoned Light Industrial and would have to be rezoned to allow the apartments to be constructed.
"We think that could be problematic," City Attorney Laurie Robertson-Hardwick said.
In the end, commissioners voted to take Emmert's request under advisement, which means they could bring it back at a later meeting and either approve or deny it.
Emmert told the commission he would like an answer to his request before moving ahead with his project.