Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

September 17, 2013

Shell building discussed at public meeting

Location, location, location!

Diane Raver The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — Nearly 20 people attended the Batesville Economic Development Commission meeting Sept. 12 at the Batesville Memorial Building. It may not seem like a large number, but compared to other similar meetings, this is a decent turnout.

The public meeting was held to present the commission’s ideas relating to the possibility of constructing a shell building.

Ultimately, the goal is attracting new business, which in turn will create new jobs in the immediate vicinity.

No one voiced opposition to the concept. However, there was discussion as to where the structure would be built, either at the Batesville Commerce Center, located at Lammers Pike and Commerce Drive, or Batesville Industrial Park at Lammers Pike and Merkel Road.

Mike Vonderheide thought the best location would be in the commerce center, which borders the interstate. “With the number of cars going up and down I-74 every day, that’s got to be your best spot.”

BEDC President Andy Saner, who led the meeting, noted, “From what we have heard from leads, the existing commerce park has some limitations, and heavy truck traffic could potentially cause some disruptions .... It’s also kind of landlocked if we’re talking about expansion.”

Gene Lambert, a BEDC member and city council president, added, “When Honda came into the Greensburg area, we did have some extra traffic coming into our community looking at different sites. The feedback we got was they were not happy with the commerce center at all because it has hodgepodge (mixed-use development) in it .... It’s not what the Japanese are looking for at all. They want a true industrial park.

“The concern with putting a building on Lot 31 (in the commerce park) is we know we’re eliminating a lot of opportunities just because it’s in the commerce center .... (and) I would not want to put a manufacturing center right next to a retirement center (St. Andrews Health Campus).”

Vondersheide pointed out, “In talking about a 50,000 square foot shell building, we’re not talking about heavy manufacturing. You’re looking at more assembly, and Lot 31 would be a great place.”

Consultant Vicki Kellerman said, “Most of the leads we get are asking for a building that’s 50,000 square feet that’s expandable to 100,000 or 250,000 square feet.”

City council member Kevin Chaffee commented, “You have the existing commerce center. It makes sense to develop it and then use that to help the industrial park.” He also wondered if preparing a virtual building would be a possibility. That way a big expense wouldn’t be incurred.

Saner remarked, “People still prefer to see steel and mortar.”

Jim Dreyer asked if county commissioners had agreed to help fund upgrades to Merkel Road. Lambert said, “I did speak to a commissioner this week, and I am told they hope and plan to have a letter documented with their offer ready for Monday’s meeting.”

Saner added, “The shell building may be a risk if it’s too big or too small, but not doing something is a risk, too. It isn’t as much about the particular building as an invitation to visit our community.”

He also stressed, “Once the decision on the location is made, we need everyone to be behind it because job creation is very important.”

No specific timetable was given for a decision on the project.

Diane Raver can be contacted at diane.raver@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.