Huge $150M industrial campus planned at former Ford Visteon site on east side

The former site of the Ford Visteon plant at 6900 English Ave. is now largely vacant. (Photo courtesy of Google)

A Carmel-based developer plans to spend about $150 million to turn the sprawling site of the former Ford Visteon plant on the east side of Indianapolis into a multi-building industrial and logistics campus.

Lauth Group Inc. is expected to redevelop the largely vacant, 148-acre property at 6900 English Avenue—just west of Shadeland Avenue—into multiple speculative and build-to-suit structures totaling up to 1.9 million square feet, real estate sources told IBJ. The campus would be largely focused on logistics and light industrial uses.

The property is under contract for an undisclosed price from Ford Motor Co., which owns the land under its own name and an affiliated holding company. The sale is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022, pending due diligence and permitting approvals.

Ford has been looking for a buyer for the property for nearly a decade, after the company closed its 1.8-million-square-foot hydraulic steering factory there in 2011 and moved toward electronically powered steering columns.

Initially, Ford had hoped a new user could take over the existing building, but it agreed to raze the structure after failing to secure interest in the site.

Already, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. has agreed to provide Lauth up to $4 million in tax credits for a $20 million qualified investment in the site by the end of 2022, meaning construction could start by the end of next year. Qualified investments typically include hard costs like acquisition, architectural and engineering fees, environmental remediation, construction management and permitting.

That IEDC incentives deal, finalized in late November, calls for Lauth to make an initial capital investment of about $57.9 million into the property, though the firm expects to spend at least $150 million over the life of the project, according to its contract with IEDC.

The city of Indianapolis said it has not yet received any planning filings or incentive applications for the project. However, the site is located in the Brookville Road Industrial Corridor and Irvington Plaza Economic Development Area created in 2019, which encourages developers to revitalize ailing or underdeveloped properties.

The site is also located in an Opportunity Zone, which would allow Lauth to realize substantial tax breaks if the firm invests capital gains into the property.

In 2020, Indianapolis-based Ambrose Property Group announced it was spending about $75 million to redevelop the 93-acre Navistar site just southwest of the Ford property into a new industrial park. The firm received tax breaks from the city for the project.

Automotive Components originally announced in 2006 that a shutdown of the Visteon facility would come at the end of 2008, but the United Auto Workers struck a competitive operating agreement that extended their work through 2010.

The factory at one time employed well over 2,000 people on the east side, but that number dipped to 900 by 2010.

Real estate brokers Mark Writt and Nikki Leahy of CBRE’s Indianapolis office represent Ford on the property. Writt declined to comment for this story. Lauth did not return multiple calls requesting comment. 

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