4 years on, Cummins’ plans for Greenwood facility ‘in limbo’

A rendering of an information technology and digital hub Cummins planned to build in Greenwood. The plans have since changed, and nothing is yet to be built on the land near County Line Road and Interstate 65.

Daily Journal File Photo

Provided renderings

By Noah Crenshaw | Daily Journal

For The Republic

GREENWOOD — More than four years after Cummins Inc. first announced they were coming to Greenwood, nothing has been built on the land they purchased — and no one knows when that could change.

In the spring of 2019, the Columbus-based engines, filtration and power generation products company revealed they planned to come to Greenwood, fulfilling the city’s long-time wishes to recruit a tech employer and develop a key piece of land near Interstate 65 and County Line Road. But those plans later changed, and by May 2022, there were plans for a vehicle service center to occupy some of the land.

Those plans are now up in the air, too. Cummins officials say they are still evaluating different options for the property, and city officials are hoping that something will eventually be built.

A tech hub

In May 2019, Cummins officials said they planned to build a 100,000-square-foot information technology and digital hub at the southeast corner of Interstate 65 and County Line Road.

The hub was expected to bring at least 500 jobs that pay, on average, $100,000, including benefits, as early as 2020, with the possibility of up to 1,500 jobs if a second phase is built. Most of the initial 500 employees were going to be relocated from Columbus or Indianapolis, according to a Daily Journal report at the time.

The deal had been in the works for about eight months. A site search consultant for Cummins approached the city about possibilities. Officials did not know the company’s identity until closer to the announcement, they said at the time.

The city of Greenwood bought about 85 acres from County Line Partners 101 for about $7.7 million and planned to sell 31 acres to Cummins for $10 as part of an agreement.

Giving Cummins 31 acres of land valued at $5 million was one of many incentives the city was to provide. In return, the company agreed to not apply for any tax breaks and to produce at least 500 jobs immediately. If it did not, as a protection for Greenwood, Cummins was expected to owe the city the difference in income tax that would have been produced by those jobs, city documents show.

A change in plans

Flash forward about 19 months later, the plans changed and the future of the tech hub was in doubt.

In December 2020, it was announced that Cummins would have complete control of its plans and up to five years to build a facility after Greenwood and the company terminated their initial project agreement. As part of the new agreement, the company would buy the 31 acres of land for $4.5 million from Greenwood.

At the time, a Cummins spokesperson said the exact plans for the hub were to be determined.

“We’re no longer saying that’s what we’re going to do, but we’re going to continue to evaluate it,” Cummins spokesperson Jon Mills told the Daily Journal in 2020.

Per the initial agreement, Cummins was expected to start construction by June 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic changed the project’s course, and it was put on hold for months.

Considering the company’s pandemic-related challenges and changes in the industry, Cummins asked to be released from its initial project agreement with the city, giving it more time and greater flexibility to determine the best future use for the property, city officials said in a news release at the time.

The $4.5 million purchase gave Cummins that flexibility, while also compensating Greenwood for expenses related to property acquisition, improvements and professional fees.

With the land under Cummins’ title, the company could decide its own plans and timeline for construction. However, if within five years Cummins decided to not use the land, wanted to sell it to a third party or develop it in a way that was not in the original agreement, the city could buy back the land, according to the termination agreement.

The city would not provide any of the other incentives promised until Cummins started construction, officials said at the time. As part of the $10 million in incentives, the city planned to spend up to $3 million on road improvements and utilities, reimburse the company for the construction of a parking lot valued at about $1.8 million and donate $1 million to the Central Nine Career Center in Greenwood.

A vehicle repair center

Nearly three years since Cummins first announced they were coming to Greenwood, the company announced plans for part of the land — a vehicle repair center.

The company came before the city in May 2022 with waive petitions for a service center on about 10.1 acres of the property. Preliminary site plans showed a retail space, a warehouse, an immediate assessment bay and several service bays. The center would service existing customers with Cummins engines and sell retail parts, said Mark Krenzke, an engineering consultant for the company.

The Greenwood Board of Zoning Appeals OK’d a special exception variance for the project but denied variances for the facility’s design.

The service center was not the city’s first choice for the property, but with the design provided by Cummins and the company’s willingness to conform to the city’s architecture and landscaping standards, Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said at the time he believes it could still be a good project for the property, he said.

At the time, both the city and Cummins said there were no additional plans for development of the land beyond the proposed service center. However, the company is open to all options and wants to do whatever is best for the community, a spokesperson said.

However, the future of this proposal is also up in the air. When asked whether the company could confirm whether or not they are still planning to build a vehicle service center, Cummins spokesperson Jon Mills said Monday that he could not.

“No, we are evaluating future use in coordination with the city,” Mills said.

The future

In October, city officials informed the Greenwood Redevelopment Commission that a prospective developer had informed them of their attempt to buy the land from Cummins.

The company turned them down.

“We had a company that was interested in buying the majority of that site, and they wanted the Cummins land as part of their purchase,” said Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers. “They reached out to Cummins and Cummins said, ‘No, we’re not interested in selling.”

Myers and the city have no idea why the company turned down the offer or what they’re planning on doing with the land, he said.

“They are not communicating with us at all, so I have no knowledge of what their thoughts or plans currently are,” he said.

When asked about what Cummins’ latest plans are for the land, Mills said the company was “currently evaluating different options for the property” He also said the company was in discussions with the city to determine best use of the land.

As for the future, Myers would still like to see Cummins come to the city because “they are a great company” that offers quality products.

“We would still like to see that happen,” Myers said. “But they’re just kind of in limbo, I guess, for what they want to do with it, and are taking the time to make sure that whatever decision they make is the right one.”

There is no longer a timeframe for the company to build on the land. The timeframe that was established in the previous agreements was only for them to purchase the property. Since they own it outright, there isn’t one now, Myers said.

“We did not put any stipulation on it after that, that they had to break ground by X day, because we don’t have any money in it. They do,” he said.

There are other companies interested in the land as well as surrounding properties, Myers said. The city is talking to them too, he said.

Regardless, officials hope something will come to the land in the future.

“We’re hoping that we can get something moving,” Myers said.