After nearly an hour of discussion, the Warsaw Redevelopment Commission, by a 5-0 vote, approved the $2 million purchase of 91.6 acres of land for the Warsaw Technology Park.
Warsaw Planner Jeremy Skinner told the WRC at today’s meeting that negotiations on the land at the north side of U.S. 30 from CR 150 West to CR 200 West have been ongoing for a year and a half. While the average of two appraisals came in at $1,680,000, the sellers – Lora Ogden, Cynthia Zehr and the Kosciusko County Community Foundation – will take no less than $2 million for the property, known as the Kerlin property.
Though unable to attend today’s meeting, Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer provided a written statement noting, “I recommend that you pass the agreement as presented. It is the culmination of many months of planning and negotiation with our community partners. I am confident that it meets the development goals of business attraction and retention set forth as the result of strategic planning with the common council. I am please that the agreement will foster industrial opportunity, stimulate job growth and benefit overall economic development in the Warsaw community for years to come.”
The land is in the Northern Economic Development Area and has been identified as a prime location for the technology park due to its access to U.S. 30, the proximity to Ivy Tech and the flexibility of lot sizes. It is also where the developers, West Hill Development LLC, will construct a shell spec building at a minimum of 40,000 square feet. Such a building will serve as a ready to move into facility for new manufacturing.
WRC President Charlie Smith told the board, “George Robertson of KEDCo has said many times there is a need for shell buildings. We have to have available buildings for businesses to move into and bring higher paying jobs … if we don’t have it, we’re not going to grow.”
While the WRC board discussed the potential risks of purchasing the property without any commitments from manufacturers, the members ultimately agreed that the city, along with West Hill Development, is in a position many other communities would be enviable to be in. “We’re not bonding this project, that’s a huge benefit,” said Skinner. It was also noted that the city is going into the project with a developer already in place.
Closing on the 91.6 acres is expected to take place on or before Dec. 15. Phase I of the project, which will include an additional expense of $835,000 for right-of-way acquisition and road construction, and the construction of the shell building, is to commence in January and be completed by December 2014. The entire project is estimated to cost the city $4,247,800 over a 5-year period.
To see the entire project outline, click HERE.