MT. COMFORT — County officials say they’re hopeful 160 acres of land on the county’s west side will sell quickly after Celadon Trucking called off its $28 million plan to build there.
Celadon Trucking has canceled its plans amid financial struggles to establish its headquarters in Hancock County, a project that was expected to create nearly 900 new jobs, the Indianapolis Business Journal reports.
The Indianapolis-based company has halted construction at the Hancock County site, which now contains a partially finished 75,000-square-foot building, and is preparing to put the property — located at the intersection of Mt. Comfort Road and West County Road 300N — up for sale.
Story continues below gallery
Celadon is also selling off its flatbed unit and outsourcing its driver schools, the IBJ reports.
The news comes after months of speculation about whether the Hancock County project would be completed. In May, the company’s financial reporting came under scrutiny, and as a result, its stock was in danger of being delisted by the New York Stock Exchange. The company also reported a $10 million operating loss following the first quarter of 2017.
Celadon was touted as the biggest development Hancock County has seen in recent memory.
A proposal to the Hancock County Plan Commission in 2016 promised a four-story, 54,000-square-foot administration building; a 73,000-square-foot maintenance facility; and a 30,000-square-foot dormitory available for drivers staying overnight. Two retention ponds on the property were intended to collect rainwater runoff.
The site, less than half a mile from Interstate 70, would have served as an overnight hub for drivers and was designed to feature a six-acre paved lot for driver training, according to development plans submitted to the county planning office.
County councilman Bill Bolander said he’d heard speculation over the past few months about the project’s status but said he hadn’t heard it was called off.
Though he’s disappointed to learn the project won’t come to fruition, the county doesn’t want to be home to a business that could fail, he said.
He’s hopeful the land will sell quickly and a new manufacturer will pick up where Celadon left off, he said.
County economic development officials will work with Celadon to sell the building that’s nearly completed, one of three planned for the campus, said Skip Kuker, director of Hancock Economic Development Corporation.
The decision to scrap the project had nothing to do with county officials, who were accommodating and helpful toward Celadon throughout the process, said Celadon public relations manager Joe Weigel.
“We had every intention of making our home in Hancock County, but with the situation with the business and its new direction, it makes sense to put the property up for sale and remain in Indianapolis,” Weigel said. “We’re disappointed.”
Celadon, a full-service transportation company, carries goods for companies including Lowe’s, Walmart and General Motors. A publicly traded company founded in 1985, Celadon runs trucking routes throughout North America and owns subsidiaries in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
In early 2016, the company had run out of room for growth at its current headquarters, just east of Post Road in Indianapolis, 9503 E. 33rd St. Leaders presented preliminary plans to construct company headquarters in Hancock County in February that year.
Celadon had received approval in April 2016 from the Hancock County Council to receive a tax break that would have saved the company up to $4.3 million in property taxes during a 10-year period.
The company also was offered tax incentives from the state. Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered the company nearly $3 million in tax breaks if it met specific job creation goals.
The facility was expected to bring a significant amount of money for local road projects through its location in a county tax-increment financing district, Kuker said.
TIF districts, which encompass commercial property, are areas designated by county officials that reserve some property taxes collected from businesses in the area to support improvement projects.