Warehouses meet mixed fates

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Indianapolis-based i3 Investors wants to develop two buildings totaling 1.25 million square feet at the northeast and northwest corners of Interstate 70 and CR 500W in Hancock County.

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HANCOCK COUNTY – Financial officials for the county have started to approve a tax break for one industrial warehouse development, rejected another and plan to resume considerations for a third next month.

In the first of two votes, the Hancock County Council last week approved a tax abatement for Indianapolis-based i3 Investors that gradually phases in the amount of real property taxes that would be owed over the course of 10 years.

The company wants to develop two buildings totaling 1.25 million square feet at the northeast and northwest corners of Interstate 70 and CR 500W. While the proposed developments are speculative, the firm foresees them fulfilling warehouse, distribution or manufacturing purposes.

Council members’ initial approval of the tax break allows the developer to move forward negotiating an economic development agreement with the Hancock County Commissioners. That document will establish economic development payments the company will pay the county, which will go to public safety agencies and/or schools. The agreement will also outline how infrastructure improvements in the area would be funded.

The council approved the tax abatement 5-1, with Bill Bolander, Keely Butrum, Kent Fisk, Robin Lowder and Jim Shelby voting in favor and Jeannine Gray voting against. Mary Noe was absent.

A motion to approve a tax abatement for Dallas-based CTR Logistics failed after resulting in a 3-3 tie, with Bolander, Fisk and Shelby voting in favor and Butrum, Gray and Lowder voting against.

CTR Logistics filed an application for an abatement for two industrial warehouses totaling nearly 1 million square feet on the north side of CR 300N west of CR 700W, west of where the company recently developed two warehouses.

The site’s industrial zoning designation would permit the two latest proposed buildings. However, developers often report needing tax abatements in order to offer competitive leases to tenants. Executives with CTR Logistics did not return requests for comment on whether the company plans to continue pursuing the development despite failing to secure the abatement.

Lowder supports i3 Investors’ proposal but not CTR Logistics’.

“I try to look at all these things individually,” she said. “I’m concerned about the finances of the county, and these buildings will help the finances. As the county grows and all these towns and the city grows, we begin to lose some of our income tax, so we have to be concerned about this. These buildings are a way for us to grow some of our revenue.”

The site i3 is eyeing is ideal for industrial buildings, Lowder continued, noting how it borders I-70.

She added she’s received a lot of emails from residents in that area and has spoken with some of them.

“There are property owners that are happy with the deals that they got with the developer – I think there’s some people that are ready to leave and go elsewhere – and there’s a few that weren’t,” she said.

Lowder added when contemplating such developments, she considers the needs of the county, concerns of nearby residents and desires of property owners looking to sell.

“We don’t make these decisions lightly, we really don’t,” she said.

She was less accepting of CTR Logistics’ proposal, noting that the site is right across CR 300N from the Hunters Chase neighborhood.

“That would set those buildings directly across 300 from them,” Lowder said.

Gray was the only council member to vote against both tax abatements.

“I don’t think that we have a really good vision of what the west side is going to end up looking like if we continue to grow at this pace,” she said, referring to the surge in industrial development occurring along and beyond the Mt. Comfort Corridor.

The council continued discussion on a proposal from Logistics Realty Capital, on the firm’s request, to the council’s November meeting. The company, which is based in Smithville, Missouri, wants to develop two speculative buildings totaling about 875,000 square feet north of I-70, south of West CR 200N, west of Buck Creek Road and east of the Marion County line. The proposal, like many in western Hancock County, has drawn ardent concerns from nearby residents. Briane House, a lawyer representing the developer, said there’s been extensive dialogue between the developer and residents.