GREENFIELD — Land on the north side of the city could be the home of department stores, a movie theater, office space and hotels.
Greenfield at the Crossing, a 60-acre site located just northeast of the Interstate 70 and State Road 9 interchange, would offer a broad range of potential uses, and officials say it could draw from regional markets, boosting the city’s profile and rounding out its services.
Keith Stark, chief executive officer of Consortium CRE, a retail brokerage firm, has been working on development of the site since 2005. Initial plans were to begin leasing the land in 2008, but the economic recession stalled development and pushed plans back significantly, he said.
Now, as the national economy bounces back, Stark said the site is nearly ready to go, and he’s begun talking to prospective users. What specific businesses choose to locate on the property is yet to be determined, he said, but he sees a lot of potential, given its proximity to I-70 and the city.
“I see room for more hotel rooms in Greenfield, office buildings and even some larger format stores, especially at that site,” Stark said. “There will be some retailers that may consider coming to Greenfield and that will want to be on that site and no other because of its visibility to both interstate traffic and the community.”
The entire 60-acre site could accommodate as much as 500,000 square feet of retail space, Stark said. That could equate to a few large-scale stores or a dozen or more smaller shops, he said.
Stark said he wasn’t discouraged when earlier this year Kohl’s backed out of plans to open a store less than a mile south of his location. He said the store backing out is likely not indicative of how successful a department store would be in Greenfield.
He said that decision was likely based on national economic conditions, not Greenfield’s market, and said Kohl’s halted development on several other sites across the country, too.
Regardless of what businesses locate on the site, Stark said he wants to see companies that complement one another, making for a more complete shopping center.
Joanie Fitzwater, zoning administrator for the city of Greenfield, said she hopes to see the site develop into a regional hub.
“That site has great accessibility from I-70, and we’d like to see it attract from our neighboring communities,” she said.
Fitzwater added that she and several other city officials have been eager to see the site develop.
“That’s a really important site to the city, being right at the entry gate off the interstate,” she said. “There’ll be a lot of attention paid to it.”
Skip Kuker, executive director of the Hancock Economic Development Council, said he, too, sees plenty of opportunity for the property, especially given its flexibility in zoning, allowing it to accommodate a wide variety of shops.
Economic downturn is always a possibility, he said, but having the freedom to attract a range of retailers makes for a more marketable site.
“Anytime you have more flexibility, you give yourself more options,” Kuker said. “You don’t know if box stores are going to be popular in the next 10 years, or if everything will be sold (online), so having something zoned with a great deal of flexibility to serve a broad range of clients is essential to developing a site into something successful.”
Stark is currently coordinating with officials from the Indiana Department of Transportation to determine what improvements would need to be made to nearby roadways, including State Road 9 and East County Road 300N, which run perpendicular to the site.
He hopes to see businesses begin building on the site in the next two years, though that time frame is hard to predict, he said.
“You have to be patient with these type of things,” he said. “They don’t happen overnight, and we can’t control the county economy, let alone the state, national or global economy.”