Greencastle/Putnam County Development Center Director Bill Dory announced Friday that an agreement has been reached for Magic Circle Corp. -- the corporate name of Dixie Chopper -- to lease the 50,000 square-foot spec building for three years with a two-year additional option.
Work has begun on laying a concrete floor in the structure at 2540 E. CR 50 South (west of Fillmore Road and north of IAC Corp.).
Dixie Chopper, founded in Putnam County by Art Evans in April 1980, will continue to build its 20-some models of the "World's Fastest Lawn Mower" at its 120,000-square-foot facilities north of Fillmore.
New Dixie Chopper President Simon Wilson was unavailable for comment Friday on how the Putnam County company will utilize the now-former spec building. It could use the facility for assembly, manufacturing of components or possibly even parts operations.
However, Dory told the Banner Graphic that Wilson had indicated the new facility will allow Dixie Chopper flexibility as the company continues to grow and will help assure that such growth occurs within the local community.
"From my perspective," Dory said, "it's nice to be able to help a local business grow and support the local economy."
No timetable was available Friday on when Dixie Chopper would occupy the building for its purposes.
Dory informed the Greencastle Redvelopment Commission Wednesday night that a tenant had been secured for the controversial shell building, earning applause and a standing ovation from members.
He was unable to identify the tenant, however, until Dixie Chopper and Garmong Development Co. had worked out final details of the lease on the building and its 9.76-acre site.
In 2007, the Greencastle Redevelopment Commission entered into a partnership with Garmong Development Co. to construct the Greencastle Shell Building.
The Redevelopment Commission provides a partial interest subsidy while the building is vacant. Garmong is responsible for property taxes, maintenance, insurance, utilities and a portion of the loan interest. Under the terms of the partnership, the full amount of the subsidy can be recaptured by the Redevelopment Commission when the property is sold.
With the leasing of the property, the Redevelopment Commission will not be responsible for providing any loan interest subsidy during the term of the lease. Available funds can be redirected to other projects.
Dory said although it took time to make the project a success, marketing of the shell building has put Greencastle in front of many companies considering relocation or expansion of their businesses.
"From a marketing standpoint," he said, "the property has allowed us to put in proposals on 125 to 150 projects."
Several of those connections, Dory said, have resulted "in some looks and some tire kickers."
Dory said in the current economic situation he is finding a greater number of inquiries have come in seeking existing buildings rather than greenfields for new construction.
The shell building is located on property deeded to the city from IBM Corp. when it left Greencastle in March 1987. The parcel in question is known as the "Sgt. Cunningham site" because of the discovery of a Revolutionary War veteran's grave marker on the property approximately 35 years ago.
Sgt. Cunningham's remains were never uncovered. His marker was transferred to the Veterans Section at Forest Hill Cemetery.