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Another $4.6 million sought to make county land truly 'shovel ready'

Property near GM plant remains mostly empty after three years

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 8:23 am

Officials are hoping another $4.6 million or so will make more than 100 acres of county-owned land near the General Motors plant more attractive for development.

Allen County Council on Monday is expected to consider making the money

available so water and sewer lines, roads and drainage features can be added to the Stonebridge Business Park at Interstate 69 and Lafayette Center Road.

The county paid $1.42 million for 150 there three years ago and paid $600,000 for another 34 acres this year, but the land remains largely vacant.

Although initially touted as “shovel-ready” – that is, available for immediate development – lack of infrastructure and other impediments is believed to have affected the property’s attractiveness to companies needing or wanting to move quickly. So the Plan Commission recently approved a proposal to subdivide the property into as many as 12 smaller lots, reducing the time needed to approve any specific tenant. The roads, sewers and drainage will also speed the development process. The Commission also approved a series of covenants to guide development in the park.

“We’re trying to put the property in a more competitive position. We have 124 acres available but only one area west of the new Vera Bradley design center is ready,” explained Mark Royse, the county’s deputy director of economic development. Despite the Plan Commission’s subdivision of the property, the land could still accommodate one large tenant or several smaller ones, Royse said. Either way, however, the addition of a second entrance will be beneficial, he added.

Money for the project could come from the county’s general fund and economic

development income taxes, Royse said, and could be recovered by the sale of lots to developers or businesses. The idea is not to make a profit, Royse said, but to create jobs.

“If we break even (on the land), we’ll be happy,” he said.