No talks between Harley, owner of local site

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Shelby County officials hope Harley-Davidson Inc. chooses a site next to Indianapolis for a new assembly plant, but the discussions are so preliminary that the property owner has yet to hear the first word from the motorcycle company.

Tim Shrout, managing member of Indianapolis-based Cedar Run Investments LLC, said he thinks Harley officials are using the Indiana site along with potential sites in Kentucky and Tennessee as leverage to gain concessions at an existing assembly plant in York, Penn.

"I think it’s a long shot," Shrout said of his chances of selling land to accommodate the plant.

IBJ reported last week that three delegations of Harley officials visited the site in August.

The 100-acre tract adjoins both Marion County and Interstate 74. The pie-shaped site, which is south of the interstate, is bordered on the west by County Road South 900 West (South Carroll Road) and on the south by County Road West 940 North (East McGregor Road).

The location was considered for entry-level housing during the recent housing boom until angry neighbors persuaded county officials to ax the project. It since has been rezoned for industrial use. Shrout has listed the property for $30,000 an acre.

Shrout said he is negotiating with a group in the Shelbyville area that wants to buy options on the property. However, he would not disclose further information about the group or the talks.

Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson has said it prefers making its operations in Pennsylvania more efficient, but that it also is considering green-field sites near Louisville and Nashville, Tenn. Kansas City, Mo., where the company operates another plant, has fallen off the list.

Shelby County Development Corp. Executive Director Dan Theobald disclosed last week that if Harley were to build the plant at the Indiana site, it likely would draw 100,000 tourists a year to see the assembly process or to simply drop in for visits.

The plant would employ 1,000 and likely cover about 660,000 square feet, Theobald said. Gov. Mitch Daniels, who rides one of the iconic motorcycles, visited at length with one of the delegations last month.

Colliers Turley Martin Tucker principal Abbe Hohmann said one of the main hurdles to establishing a factory of any kind is the difficult environment for financing new projects.

However, Hohmann added that the location would give Harley-Davidson quick access to Interstate 465 to smooth the flow of goods, employees and visitors to and from the site. And the location isn’t far from the amenities of downtown Indianapolis.

Another benefit to the site is its largely rural character. Harley-Davidson might be able to negotiate a lower price because the property is beyond more-densely developed property closer to Indianapolis.

"They have the best of both worlds," she said. "It’s a great location."

Harley-Davidson anticipates deciding before the end of the year whether to restructure the Pennsylvania site or move to an alternate site.

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