Big southwest-side industrial project begins approval process

A massive warehouse project to be built on the southwest side is entering the approval process as the Indianapolis area’s robust industrial market keeps charging ahead.

As IBJ reported in September, Park Southwest would be built on 155 acres of farmland near where Kentucky Avenue and Camby Road converge. It would consist of three buildings totaling about 2.2 million square feet.

Sheldon Phelps of Carmel and Michael Brown of Flower Mound, Texas—two friends who met in business school at the University of Michigan—have formed Camby Holdings LLC to build the project. Phelps previously has developed single-family projects, in which Brown has invested. Park Southwest is the first development they’ll tackle together.

The city’s Metropolitan Development Commission was set to hear their rezoning request April 6. But an attorney representing an adjacent neighborhood has submitted a request for a continuance, delaying the hearing until May 18.

There’s no timeline yet for construction, as Camby Holdings plans to identify specific tenants and build to suit their needs.

“We feel that [industrial] is a very strong sector right now, particularly in this area.” Phelps said.

The land is south of Indianapolis International Airport and Interstate 70, and near several industrial parks.

Phelps and Brown own a portion of the land and have the rest under contract. They are seeking to have it rezoned from multi-family and retail—designated by the city’s comprehensive plan—to industrial. They’ve hired high-profile zoning lawyer Mary Solada to argue their request.

The area’s hot industrial market last year showed signs of cooling, as it struggled to absorb a large amount of square footage coming online.

New construction in 2015 climbed nearly 10 percent, to 7 million square feet, compared with the previous year, while absorption fell nearly 40 percent, to 3.8 million square feet.

The result: rising vacancy, which increased from 6.2 percent in 2014 to 7.4 percent last year.

Still, Jason Speckman, an industrial broker at Colliers International, who is marketing Park Southwest for Camby Holdings, is bullish.

“Deals are getting completed,” he said. “There’s nothing that worries us from an activity standpoint.”

Some of the larger projects under construction include Kansas City, Missouri-based Van Trust Real Estate LLC’s 529,000-square-foot speculative distribution center in Whitestown, a 450,000-square-foot facility in Plainfield that Browning Investments and Duke Realty Inc. are building for Integration Distribution Services, and Venture Logistics Inc.’s 406,000-square-foot warehouse on Indianapolis’ south side.

Speckman at Colliers expects a few more projects to pop up this year and thinks Park Southwest will attract a lot of attention.

“We’re excited about it,” he said. “It’s right in the path of progress.”

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