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New idea addresses building demand

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Construction of an industrial shell building in the Woodside Industrial Park could fill a critical need in the Columbus area.

The building, valued at $2 million, would provide a showcase for companies looking to locate here, said Jason Hester, executive director of the Columbus Economic Development Board.

The building also could be an option for a local company considering expansion, he said.

The 50,000-square-foot building would be located near I-65 in the vicinity of the Walesboro exit. As proposed, the building could be expanded to 200,000 square feet.

Shell buildings are unfinished structures that can greatly reduce the time required for a company to occupy a building.

The exterior of the building would be constructed, while floors, interior walls and most of the building utility systems remain unfinished. This offers the tenant an opportunity to finish the building to its needs and greatly speeds up time to occupancy, Hester said.

Harold Force, president of Force Construction and a member of Force Holdings LLC, which will develop the site, said his company is ready to construct the shell building, but he has requested a tax abatement from the city before beginning the project.

The Columbus City Council will be asked to consider an abatement, a reduction in taxes granted by a local government for a predetermined period, for the project.

“Force Holdings chose to pursue a tax abatement, and we feel it is a fair and reasonable request for this project,” Hester said.

In this instance, the property taxes would be phased in on the new investment over a 10-year period, with a 95 percent abatement for the first five years and a gradual reduction to 10 percent in the final year.

“With 100 percent of the investment coming from the private sector, the project will offer greater flexibility and improve time of response as we talk with prospective companies who are interested in investing in Columbus and Bartholomew County,” Hester said.

Buck Ritz of Milestone Contractors, who heads the Economic Development Board’s Sites and Building Committee, said the shell building will address a critical need in the Columbus area.

“Up to 85 percent of the leads that the Economic Development Board received last year were looking for existing buildings, and today’s manufacturers and logistics providers want high ceilings, open bays and buildings that can be expanded,” Ritz said.

The proposed building would offer 30-foot, clear heights and would be offered for sale or long-term lease. The value of the finished building will be based on user requirements.

Hester said with similar projects across the state, including recent shell buildings in Franklin and Muncie, developers received cash support from the local government. However, if approved, this project will be completed without public money, he said.

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