By BRADEN LAMMERS
River Ridge Commerce Center is hoping to draw a major manufacturer to a minimum of 1,500 acres in the former Indiana Army Ammunition Plant off of Ind. 62.
At the River Ridge Development Authority Board meeting Monday, a resolution to pursue the development of a megasite in the commerce center was approved.
River Ridge Director of Marketing and Finance Paul Wheatley said the approval would allow for the evaluation of a site to locate a company like a large steel manufacturer, chemical manufacturer or an automotive manufacturer inside the commerce center.
The megasite itself would be an area of about 2,500 acres, and could be no less than 1,500 acres. River Ridge encompasses about 6,000 acres.
McCallum Sweeney Consulting, a company specializing in site evaluation and certification, will conduct an evaluation of a potential site where a large company could locate, per the resolution approved. The contract to complete the site evaluation totals $35,000.
“From that report we would seek a megasite designation,” Wheatley said.
He explained with the designation, River Ridge will be able to market a shovel-ready site and it will be able to attract a wider variety of potential tenants into the commerce center.
“It is very rare to have a landmass under common ownership like we do that also sits in a major metropolitan area, that also sits at a major interchange,” Wheatley said. “We feel like this site is going to be very attractive.”
The goal of having a marketable megasite is to attract a single, large, major manufacturer to River Ridge. Around the major manufacturer, Wheatley said, a supplier park could be developed. He said River Ridge would hope to locate one single company around which to build the megasite, rather than selling the site to a developer to lease a number of properties.
“Those projects are heavy in capital investment and they employ people at wages at more than $20 per hour,” Wheatley said of a large manufacturing company.
He added that interest from several companies has been generated, but no negotiations have begun, nor would Wheatley divulge which companies expressed interest in developing a megasite.
River Ridge was also notified that it will receive assistance to improve the infrastructure throughout the commerce center through a U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration Public Works Grant.
According to the resolution accepting the grant, River Ridge will receive $1.8 million in grant funds to complete several infrastructure improvements, largely around the current development area along Ind. 62 between Salem Noble Road and Stacey Road.
The grant requires 50 percent matching funds from River Ridge and the estimated cost for the improvements total more than $3.6 million.
Among the infrastructure projects listed are a railroad relocation, Trey Street extension to River Ridge Circle, the resurfacing of River Ridge Circle as well as a traffic light at its intersection with Ind. 62, improvements to Cox Street and a traffic signal at its intersection with Ind. 62, create a water line loop from Trey Street to undeveloped sites, install a lift station and increase the size of the sanitary sewer collector.
River Ridge secured the grant through the Disaster Relief Opportunity administered through the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
“Each disaster-recovery investment is intended to support a community’s long-term recovery, spur job creation, leverage private investment and promote disaster resiliency,” according to the notice of investment award. “The region has suffered through five declared disasters since 2008 — disasters that caused many millions of dollars in damages. This investment will help the Clark County region capitalize on its competitive strengths, assist in its long-term recovery efforts and promote disaster resiliency.”
Wheatley said River Ridge has been working to secure the grant funding for about a year and the commerce center will likely seek an engineering plan to be developed before the end of this year. The construction of the projects outlined in the grant funding is expected to be completed by the end of 2014, he said.