GREENFIELD — Greenfield officials plan to construct a $2.5 million industrial building, citing a lack of local vacant manufacturing space, in hopes of attracting a business looking for a home.
The shell building will be ready-made for industries that might otherwise move on after considering Greenfield but finding no place to set up shop. City officials have hired a development company to oversee the project and are eyeing nearly $2.8 million of funding generated by taxes paid by businesses located in the tax increment financing district, to pay for land acquisition and construction.
City officials will market the building during economic development conversations in hopes of recouping the investment, said city utility director Mike Fruth.
Hancock Economic Development Corporation director Skip Kuker is pushing for the project, saying at least half of the companies that contact his office seek vacant manufacturing space, which is at a premium in Hancock County. The market has changed, and businesses want to move quickly when launching new operations, he said. They’re looking for ready-made space they can easily move into, Kuker said.
If a company seeks a vacant building, and Greenfield has nothing to offer, the conversation about the company locating here ends almost immediately, Kuker said.
“We’re missing out on opportunities,” he said.
There’s no specific company in mind for the building, but two pieces of land have been identified as potential locations for the project. The land needs to be about 12 to 15 acres to accommodate the proposed 50,000-square-foot facility and any future expansions. Project organizers haven’t publicly released information about where the land is, citing ongoing negotiations, but say it’s already zoned for industrial development.
GM Development, the Indianapolis firm consulting with city officials on the project, budgeted $2.5 million for construction of the 50,000-square foot building, said Greg Martz of GM Development, which has worked on 30 shell building projects. About $300,000 has been budgeted for purchasing and preparing land for construction.
The city would build the exterior of the facility – it would have no floors and 32-foot ceilings to best accommodate a wide range of company needs. The land purchased will have enough acres to accommodate a 150,000 square-foot expansion should a company desire it, Martz added.
For years, other cities have undertaken similar projects, as constructing shell buildings is a popular way to spark development, Martz said.
The Greenfield Redevelopment Commission, which oversees how TIF dollars are spent, must approve the project and has so far been supportive, voting in favor of tapping GM Development for the project and making plans to call an executive session to discuss purchasing the land.
Historically, Greenfield officials have been able to convince companies to purchase land primed for development solely based on the city’s location – its proximity to Indianapolis and Interstate 70 make the area attractive, said Fruth, who has worked for the city for more than 30 years.
But now, many companies seek cities and towns with vacant buildings, he said, and Greenfield doesn’t have any to offer. It’s not the worst of problems the city could face, but investing in a shell building could spark more economic development, he said.
“The good news is Greenfield doesn’t have any empty buildings. The bad news is Greenfield doesn’t have any empty buildings,” Fruth said.
A shell building is a worthy investment — it will help keep Greenfield competitive with other cities and towns and encourage job creation for city residents, he said.
The Mt. Comfort area is a hot spot right now for new development, Kuker said. A shell building could spark a economic development boom in Greenfield, he said.
The next step in the process is purchasing land. Depending on how quickly the commission acts, construction could begin as soon as this fall, Martz said.
What’s a shell building?
Cities construct shell buildings, which typically exclude interior features but provide the framework for a new business’s home, to attract developers. In Greenfield, many economic development discussions end when business owners learn about the lack of vacant building space, officials said.
Source: Hancock Economic Development Council