With about 30,000 square feet of the third shell building at the Warsaw Technology Park occupied by Mentor Media, the Warsaw Redevelopment Commission took steps Monday to lease the approximately 70,000 square feet remaining from West Hill Development until a tenant or two can be found.
Community Economic and Development Director Jeremy Skinner first presented the commission with a resolution to approve the form of an economic development agreement with West Hill as it relates to the third shell building at 1395 Polk Drive, then the economic development agreement and finally a resolution authorizing the publication of a public notice of a public hearing for Dec. 4 in connection to the lease. All three were unanimously approved by the commission.
Skinner said under the agreement, the Redevelopment Commission would lease the 70,000 square feet at about $42,000 a month for 24 months, or until it’s no longer vacant. The total agreement is for $1 million over two years. That amount can be reduced as the property is leased out.
“So, if tomorrow someone came in and leased out 30,000 square feet, then that would be reduced by the square footage that was leased,” he said.
The Warsaw Common Council must also approve a resolution and the lease agreement, and the building corporation must approve the master lease agreement and the sublease with West Hill. The commission will approve the lease agreement after the Dec. 4 public hearing.
“A couple more board meetings, a couple more steps to go through,” Skinner said.
Mayor Joe Thallemer told the commission he was in full support of the agreement with the city’s development partners, West Hill Development.
“This is actually an incentive for the third shell building. We’ve had two previous incentives on the first and second shell building that the return to the city has paid off. We also have obviously an agreement with the developers for the actual Tech Park itself, so these agreements with our development partners have been long standing and paid off handsomely, and we feel like an investment in ready-to-occupy shell buildings is the absolute best incentive that we can provide to someone looking to come into our community, which just happened as you saw last week (with Mentor Media), or with someone who is in our community that wishes to expand in our community,” Thallemer stated.
Dan Robinson, one of the West Hill partners, said the building is designed so that the north wall is removeable and the lot that it is on will accommodate at least 30,000 square feet, which would bring the size of the building to 131,000 square feet. If they make an “L”-shaped building out of it, they could easily put another 50,000 square feet onto the building.
Robinson also told the commission for their information, “We are in current negotiations with two commercial realtors to sign a listing agreement. We’re real close to that signatory to try to market that 70,000 square foot to limit your exposure and ours.”
Thallemer added, “The existing renter - Mentor Media - has expressed interest that if the demand dictates, they would take that additional square footage or some of that square footage as well, so it may just be an expansion of who is in there already, as well as potentially someone new for the remaining square footage.”
Another partner in West Hill - G & G Hauling & Excavating co-owner and county commissioner Cary Groninger - also was present at Monday’s meeting.
After approving all the documents presented to them on the economic development agreement with West Hill, the commission then awarded the Shelden Street improvements bid to G & G Hauling & Excavating, the only bidder on the project. The bid for the project were opened at the last Board of Public Works and Safety meeting.
Skinner said part of the bid was for improvement work to be done on Shelden Street, with an alternative bid for street lights. He recommended the commission award G & G only the base bid for $300,722.30 and not the alternative bid. After some discussion about lights along the street, the commission approved the base bid. Skinner indicated the cost for the lights was twice what they had been since the last city project with lights.
The project goes from CR 300N north to Ind. 15.
The Redevelopment Commission also:
• Approved the following claims: $533.14 to NIPSCO for gas and electric service for 500 S. Buffalo St. for period ending Oct. 4 and for 436 S. Buffalo St., apt. A, for period ending Oct. 2; and $369 to NIPSCO for electric service for 436 S. Buffalo St., apt. A., and gas and electric for 500 S. Buffalo St.; $250, Huntington National Bank, for annual administration fee on special taxing district bonds; $163.80 to Fort Wayne Newspaper for one-year renewal subscription; $482.98 to Indiana American Water for 500 S. Buffalo St. and 432 S. Buffalo St.; $1,725 to Graycraft Signs of Warsaw for Anderson Partners construction site sign at the former Owen’s on Market Street; $4,378.50 to Barnes & Thornburg LLP for legal services for Gatke, Buffalo Street, shell building, Owens building for period ending Sept. 30; $124,400 to BMO Bank for reinvestment in the Warsaw Commons; $500,000 to BMO Bank for reinvestment; $15,750 to Dilling Group for HVAC, roof, plumbing and electrical inspection at Marsh building, 500 S. Buffalo St.; and $206.91 to Quill for office supplies.
• Approved the 2024 meeting schedule. Warsaw Redevelopment Commission will meet at 4 p.m. on the first and third Monday of every month, except for Jan. 8 and 22; April 8 and 22; Sept. 9 and 23. February will have only one meeting, on Feb. 8.
• Reviewed the Warsaw Technology Park recertification 2023 report as prepared by Skinner and sent down to the state.
The state also wanted a third-party impact study done, which Skinner is having completed by professors at Grace College to be sent down to the state.
Thallemer encouraged the commission members to look carefully at the 17-page report.
“Recertification of the Tech Park is a very important step to maintain our ability to draw increment from state tax dollars that are generated from within the park. We’ve got a $5 million cap on that, we’re a little more than halfway, I believe. But, most importantly, take some time and go through that. It’s really almost a diary of what we’ve done since 2012, with the success that we’ve had, and, again with what you all have had. It’s important to recognize the work that you’ve done that’s distilled and boiled down to this 17-page report,” he said.
The report also gives credibility to what the city is trying to do with the third shell building, with the incentive there and with the developers and partnership to get that shell building occupied, Thallemer continued.
“I think this has been really important for me over the last 12 years, and as Jeremy has worked hard, as you all have worked hard, the fruits of a lot of what we’ve done are in this 17-page report,” he finished.
Skinner said the report provides a really good idea of the investment they’ve made and the return on that investment. He mentioned they have created approximately 460 jobs in the industrial park, spent about $5 million on infrastructure and land acquisition with their partners and there’s been some capital expenditures. “But we’ve got a pretty good return,” he stated.