Plainfield, Avon work on land annexation agreement: Pact could pave way for mammoth industrial park by Browning Investments

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Officials from the towns of Plainfield and Avon are negotiating to share annexation of a large parcel of unincorporated land that a mammoth industrial and distribution park will be built upon.

Locally based developer Browning Investments Inc. has much of the 1,100-acre tract north of its Plainfield AirTech Business Park in Hendricks County under contract. When finished, the decade-long project will boast 15 million square feet of space, almost equaling the entire Plainfield industrial market. It dwarfs the 5.5-million-square-foot AirTech and is the biggest project the developer has undertaken.

“This is one of the largest, most interesting and dynamic industrial development projects that will take place over the next 10 years in the Indianapolis area,” said Bryan Poynter, vice president of industrial at Colliers Turley Martin Tucker. “So, it is very much something we are watching and encouraging to take place.”

Browning’s CentraLogistics park runs north from County Road 200S, or Bradford Road, to Main Road. Part of the park’s eastern boundary runs along a planned extension of the Ronald Reagan Parkway, which eventually will connect interstates 70 and 74.

The tax revenue the park will generate is at issue for the two towns. Although a 10-year tax abatement will be in place, it could take up to 12 years to complete construction after Browning voluntarily annexes the unincorporated property into Plainfield and Avon.

A 300-acre parcel currently falls under the jurisdiction of Avon. The remainder, or about 900 acres, is unincorporated. Officials from both towns have been meeting to come to a collective agreement. Once a compromise is reached and a funding method is secured to build the highway extension, construction can proceed.

“Browning would rather have us move quicker,” Plainfield Town Manager Rich Carlucci said. “The idea is to try to be cooperative. It’s probably in both of our best interests to do it that way.”

Avon Town Manager Tom Klein did not return calls from IBJ seeking comment.

Plainfield has tax-abatement agreements in place for projects larger than 100,000 square feet, while Avon does not. As a condition of the voluntary annexation, Browning will request that Avon modify its policy to mirror Plainfield’s, said Thomas Theobald, Browning’s director of industrial development and leasing.

Plainfield has more experience with the industrial and distribution sectors. Besides Air Tech, the Air West and Plainfield business parks are within its boundaries.

“You can’t argue the success that Plainfield has had with [its] tax-abatement policy, and we would like Avon to adopt a similar policy,” Theobald said. “The spirit of the meetings is for everybody to cooperate and figure out what is best for both communities, and to share the territory, which we think is wonderful.”

The two towns already share some services. Plainfield supplies water to areas outside of Avon and provides dispatching services for the Washington Township Fire Department and the Avon Police Department through its dispatching center.

Browning’s plan is to purchase the land in stages, in which the first acquisition would occur next year. Construction and completion of the first building would follow later in 2007. None of that can happen, however, until funding is secured for the roadway extension. Cost of the nearly twomile leg running north from U.S. 40 to Morris Street, between Main and Bradford roads, is estimated at $7 million.

A general obligation, or municipal, bond could be secured by raising taxes. Or bonds could be issued through a TIF district to pay for the road work, Carlucci said.

“It’s a critical piece,” he said. “Without that roadway, there is no project. There’s nowhere for that traffic to go.”

U.S. 36 north of the proposed business park is too congested already to handle the extra load, Carlucci said. And there’s no route north to access I-74, until the Ronald Reagan Parkway is complete.

The four-lane parkway roughly follows Six Points Road north of I-70. The first leg of the highway was finished late last year in conjunction with a new I-70 interchange, known as the Six Points Interchange. The next stretch, from Stafford Road north to U.S. 40, is scheduled to be bid in September and finished in 2008. The extension of the parkway near the business park is important because it enables traffic to get on I-70 from the new interchange.

The parties involved agreed the extension will get built, noting it is not a matter of if but when.

The economic impact of the business park is significant for the county. Harold Gutzwiller, executive director of the Hendricks County Economic Development Partnership, estimated the project will create 5,000 to 7,000 jobs.

“The impact on the county and the communities is going to be tremendous,” he said. “The direct investment would be in excess of several hundred million dollars.”

Browning’s target market for the park will be regional and national distribution hubs, which have been the bread-and-butter for Browning and other developers in the Plainfield Business Center.

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