Walmart Inc. has chosen central Indiana to build one of the largest distribution centers in the country.
The 2.2 million-square-foot facility in Hancock County is expected to serve as a hub for the retail giant’s e-commerce operations.
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company is developing the facility at 5300 W. 500 N. on about 204 acres in an unincorporated part of the county north of Mount Comfort and south of McCordsville, two industry sources told IBJ.
The facility is expected to feature 146 docks and parking for 1,985 cars and up to 916 trailers, according to public filings.
“This is the largest out-of-the-gate industrial distribution building that’s been constructed in the Indianapolis market,” said Jared Scaringe, an industrial broker with the Indianapolis office of CBRE who is not connected to the project.
He said Walmart’s distribution facility in Plainfield, which opened in 2015, totals about 2 million square feet, but consists of two buildings.
The Hancock County center would be near the southwest corner of the intersection, directly north of the Indianapolis Regional Airport. A development cost for the project has not yet been made public, and the sources said they were uncertain of such a figure.
Walmart also has distribution centers in Greencastle and Gas City. The company already has a presence in Greenfield, with a regional return center that opened about a decade ago.
That facility was operated by logistics firm DHL until 2018—when Walmart moved its return operations back in-house and took over the center—employing about 500 people at that time.
Walmart isn’t alone in its efforts to expand in Hancock County. Amazon announced in February plans to open a 680,000-square-foot distribution facility on County Road 300 N., which is now under construction by Ambrose Property Group. That project will employ between 800 and 1,000 people.
Zoning variances for the proposed Walmart e-commerce hub were approved May 29 by the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals, but Walmart’s affiliation with the development has not been confirmed publicly.
Randy Sorrell, executive director of the Hancock Economic Development Council, said during the meeting the company is “well-known” and experienced in large-scale projects. Sorrell did not immediately return a call requesting comment from IBJ on Wednesday.
A third-party, Tennessee-based Carlson Consulting Engineers Inc.—which counts Walmart among its clients—has served as a middleman for the project, according to filings. A Carlson representative said during the zoning appeals meeting the company could not provide a date for when construction would begin, as some details are still being finalized.
A Walmart spokesperson said the company had “no news to report in the Greenfield area at this time.”
The variances allow Walmart’s project to exceed the 50-foot height restriction (85 feet); exceed the 30-foot light poll restriction (35 feet); reduce parking space sizes by one foot in width; and reduce side-yard setbacks from 25 feet to 10 feet.
The distribution center project was first reported by the Greenfield Daily Reporter.
Carmel-based firm Becknell Industrial, which controls the site, is building two speculative structures directly south of the proposed Walmart facility. Those buildings, 260,000 square feet and 390,000 square feet, are expected to break ground later this year.
“We’re looking at different deals, and we’re bullish on these spec buildings and their future development,” said Jake Sturman, managing director and industrial broker with the Indianapolis office of JLL, who represents Becknell. “Hancock County is the bright, shining light within the east side industrial market. I think speculative development has been fundamentally really strong over the years, [and] it hasn’t been overbuilt.”
Sturman declined to comment on the Walmart portion of the project—including identifying the firm as the end-user—other than to say the building would be owned by its operator, not Becknell, and that the firm is “excited about supporting” the distribution center development.
It is not clear whether the project will receive local or state incentives. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. declined to comment.
Carlson Consulting did not return messages requesting comment.