A local developer is creating an office park on Columbus’ west side to take advantage of anticipated growth near Interstate 65 in the coming years.

More growth is expected west of Interstate 65 over the next 25 years than in any other direction of the city, Breeden Inc. President Mark Pratt said.

And since the west side is separated by a long flood plain that runs from the east side of Jonathan Moore Pike to the retail businesses near the interstate, incentives continue to emerge for the west side to become virtually a self-sustaining community, Pratt said.

As traditional reasons to maintain professional offices in centrally-located areas of Columbus diminish, Pratt expects more people like physicians, attorneys and wealth managers will be moving to the city’s far west side.

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In response to increasing demand for west-side professional office space, the Breeden Investment Group — the development arm of Breeden, Inc. — is creating the Westwood Professional Office Park, located off State Road 46 West behind the CVS pharmacy.

When all phases are completed, there will be four 5,000 square-foot professional office buildings on 1.6 acres west of Westwood Boulevard, right in front of the Westwood Pines Apartments.

After the first building was completed in April 2016, Dr. Kevin M. Crawford became the first occupant after moving his Forefront Dermatology practice from a leased location to 244 Westwood Blvd.

Although Crawford owns the entire building on the north side of the shared parking lot, his practice only occupies half of the space. The unoccupied half currently has gravel for flooring, so adaptations can be made to suit an individual client’s needs, Pratt said.

Just west of Forefront Dermatology is a stack of bricks and other materials that will be used when construction of the second building begins later this year, Pratt said.

The final two buildings will be built south of the parking lot. Each is capable of housing up to three occupants, depending on how clients wish to divide the space, Pratt said.

The prominent use of “Westwood” in the developments is a subtle tribute to John Wooden, the legendary Indiana-born UCLA basketball coach nicknamed the “Wizard of Westwood,” said Pratt, who describes himself as an avid basketball fan.

For decades, professionals in Bartholomew County had reasons to locate their offices elsewhere. For example, many lawyers work downtown because they require quick access to the courthouse and local governmental offices to look up public records, Pratt said.

But now that many documents are available online, downtown law offices aren’t as necessary as they once were, Pratt said.

At Columbus Regional Hospital, the hiring of {span}dedicated in-patient doctors called “hospitalists” has given l{/span}ocal physicians fewer reasons to establish private practices near the hospital campus, he said.

For decades, state and federal offices were not allowed to locate on the west side because it was not served by public transportation. But when ColumBUS Transit added the west side to its routes in May 2015, it became — in Pratt’s words — “a big game changer” for west side development.

There’s also been changes in thinking regarding retail, Pratt said. For example, brand name businesses considering Columbus have traditionally looked for locations along National Road, Pratt said.

“It’s perceived to have the highest amount of traffic in the community,” Pratt said. “But the west side is quickly rivaling that.”

While the concept of “centrally-located” is still an advantage for service industries, many professionals now believe that “if I’m closer to a higher per capita income group, I’m going to have an advantage,” Pratt said.

The housing additions and apartments off West Jonathan Moore Pike, as well as West Carr Hill Road, are among the 15-percent highest income neighborhoods in America, according to the Neighborhood Scout website.

Executives, managers and professionals make up almost 70 percent of the workforce on the west side _ a higher proportion than is found in 98 percent of all U.S. neighborhoods, the website stated.

The residential growth extends beyond higher-prices homes, Pratt said. In addition to Tipton Lakes, west side customers can be found in recently-established neighborhoods off County Road 200S, such as Shadow Creek Farms and Woodland Farms, Pratt said.

With practices in Seymour, Greenwood and Bloomington, as well as Columbus, Crawford’s regional practice provides him quick access to I-65, Pratt said.

For retailers like Walmart, Menards and Chevrolet of Columbus, having a location off I-65 helps establish a regional customer base from as far south as Scottsburg and as far north as Greenwood, he said.

Professionals are beginning to choose the west side for the same reason, Pratt said.

In manufacturing, the same principle is evident at the Woodside Business Center, where the proximity to I-65 is not only advantageous in shipping goods but also in attracting a regional labor pool, Pratt said.

Other areas

Despite some advantages and ongoing efforts, the revitalization of the State Street area on the city’s southeast side may be facing some challenges, Breeden Inc. president Mark Pratt said.

First-phase work now underway includes the addition of a 10-foot walk path being installed on the north side of the State Street bridge.  Plans for the second phase involve the development of an eight-foot People Trail with decorative architectural elements, sculptures and landscaping.

While the area has desirable existing infrastructure and the heavily-traveled State Road 46, recent new housing has mostly been multi-family units such as apartments.

“There’s no new single-family development on (the southeast) side,” Pratt said.  “Over the next 25 years, this community will have to look at developing single-family houses in those neighborhoods to make it more vibrant.”

Until new residences are built to provide families with quality permanent housing, it will be difficult for the southeast side to draw new businesses and services, Pratt said.

In contrast, robust growth can be expected to continue near Interstate 65 in the Edinburgh-Taylorsville area in the immediate future, he predicted.

Breeden today

Four businesses: Breeden Inc., which represents buyers and sellers of commercial and industrial properties; Breeden Construction, which constructs commercial and residential buildings; Breeden Investment Group, which owns a portfolio of real estate developments; and the residential real estate business, which since 2004 has been an affiliate of Century 21.

Headquarters: 700 Washington St.

Founded: 1951 by Rex Breeden and Earl Butler

Co-owners: Mark Pratt and Jan Hexamer-Gardner

Industrial development highlights: Woodside, Commerce and Progress parks.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.