— “I’m focused on downtown,” Mayor Rick Fledderman told Batesville Economic Development Commission members Nov. 1. He wants to create incentives for downtown development, especially for restaurants and retail businesses. “It’s not a common thing to do tax abatements.” Fledderman and Jacob Hurt of Urban Initiatives, Crawfordsville, who specializes in incentives, recently discussed graduated rent subsidies, waiving or reducing city fees and the city’s upcoming facade improvement program. Hurt will make some Batesville-specific recommendations.
Batesville’s wayfinding signs are to be installed Nov. 8 and the East Pearl Street reconstruction at Batesville Shopping Village should be substantially completed by Nov. 9.
Greenspace plantings will be done next spring. Once that area is more presentable, the mayor said he will search for a grocery store to fill the former Save U Mor building.
Member Gene Lambert said, “Everybody in the community wants job creation, but no one is stepping forward” to supply empty buildings for fresh companies. “In our economy, we hear and see layoffs. What do we do? How do we create jobs?”
The mayor suggested, “I think we need to re-open our discussion on (constructing) a spec building,” more specifically a shell building, at the new industrial park. “The leads that are coming in, they all want existing buildings.” Fledderman pointed out that even if a shell building turns out not to be ideal, company leaders have still gotten a peek at the community.
Lambert said perhaps the building’s three sides could be constructed. “Don’t put the back side on. If we build a 35,000-square-foot facility” and it’s too small, “they could bump it up very quickly.” The mayor said companies in search of space want taller ceilings and thicker concrete floors than many existing buildings have.
According to Lambert, “We should probably create our own destiny ... I think our niche should be targeting that 35,000- to 50,000-square-foot startup.” President Andy Saner agreed, “I think there’s a readiness to move in that direction.”