The construction of a “shell” industrial building in the Fawn River Crossing Industrial Park was approved in a special joint meeting of LaGrange County Commissioners and LaGrange County Council members Tuesday. The building is expected to be under construction before spring and should be ready for showing to prospective buyers by mid- to late summer.
Six council members (Jac Price, Michael Strawser, Ryan Riegsecker, Fred Brown, Charles Ashcraft and Steve McKowen) plus two commissioners (George Bachman and Garry Heller) voted in favor of the project. The lone negative vote was from Commissioner Larry Miller.
The shell building will be 75,000 sq. ft. and from the outside will look like a completed structure. The inside will be somewhat different, with mostly open space ready for finishing to a potential buyer’s specifications. Eave height will be 32 ft. and the open space will have 50 ft. by 50 ft. column spacing. The floor will not be cemented, allowing a new business to build the floor to accommodate their needs without tearing up new concrete.
Garmong Construction of Terre Haute will be the contractor on the $3.5 million structure. Construction will be of pre-cast concrete and landscaping and lawns will be in place. The lot chosen for the project will allow the building to be expanded to 150,000 sq. ft. or more.
Dan Zuerner, Garmong vice president, noted that there are currently five buildings in Muncie that have been built in recent times with this concept. All of these buildings have been filled with new industry. “We want to be a long-term partner with LaGrange County,” he stated.
Zuerner said there are lots of “shovel-ready” sites in Indiana plus many more in surrounding states. He also noted there are only four other communities in the state that have shell buildings in place. “Which would you rather be when a prospect comes calling, one of five communities or one of five hundred communities?” he added. Both Zuerner and Keith Gillenwater, president of the LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation (EDC), emphasized that most industry is now looking for a shell building, not a shovel-ready place to build.
Garmong will not only build the building, but will also be active in helping to market the structure. As the builder, Garmong will have the investment costs at stake with no interest to be paid for the first year. After that initial time period, LaGrange County has committed to paying monthly interest on the construction loan for up to 120 months while the building is not occupied.
Council members and commissioners agreed to a plan presented by the LaGrange County Redevelopment Corporation that will use Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) dollars from the Fawn River TIF District to guarantee payment of those interest charges. In order for this to be possible, council and commissioners agreed to waive the requirement that TIF dollars generated from the district be dedicated to repaying the Major Moves loan that was used for developing water and sewer service for the area.
An ordinance amendment will be required to facilitate this change.