By BRADEN LAMMERS
The next step for River Ridge is connectivity.
The River Ridge Development Authority met this week and discussed a number of plans for road improvements and a re-examination of its masterplan to help the commerce center connect to new roadways.
A road improvement project was unanimously approved by the River Ridge Development Authority Board — with Board Member David Flowe absent — to improve the access to American Fuji Seal Inc.
The News and Tribune previously reported that the company that produces a variety of packaging materials — including shrink sleeve labels, in-mold labels and thermo-shield insulating labels — would locate in the commerce center in April. The deal was not finalized with the company until last week.
American Fuji Seal Inc., a Japanese company with its American operations headquartered in Bardstown, Ky., purchased more than 23 acres of property located directly behind the 1-million-square-foot Amazon.com Inc. distribution center for $1.04 million.
River Ridge officials agreed to help expand Avenue J, now known as International Drive, so American Fuji can locate in the center. The 1,500-foot road will be increased in width from 20 feet to 36 feet and the project will include construction of curbs and gutters.
The contract for the road construction was awarded to T & C Contracting, Inc. for $870,700. Construction is expected to start July 1. An inspection contract with Jacobi, Toombs and Lanz Inc. for International Drive was also approved totaling $50,000.
Working through the deal with American Fuji Seal was a cumbersome process for River Ridge. In order to close the deal with the company, the River Ridge Development Authority had to address 61 exceptions in the purchase agreement.
River Ridge Development Authority Board President Mark Robinson, praising the effort from the River Ridge staff and attorneys, said there were fewer exceptions requested for Amazon.com Inc.’s distribution center.
River Ridge Attorney David Lewis explained there were so many exceptions partly because the title company the group used was not local.
“I think that’s part of the reason we saw 61 exceptions, because I think the local folks would have recognized some of those items weren’t true exceptions,” he said. “As we went through the process of eliminating them, the Cincinnati folks realized that as well.”
An example was offered of a lien on the property for an unpaid sewer bill when sewer service has yet to be extended to the site.
River Ridge Executive Director Jerry Acy presented the board with a contract to update the 2010 River Ridge masterplan. He explained the update is needed to help develop a connection from Interstate 265 and the under-construction east-end bridge, and provide access to the commerce center.
Acy said the update will be for potential road connectivity, will help develop a plan for separating heavy truck traffic from regular traffic and may address potential alignment and connectivity to a heavy-haul road in the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville.
At a recent meeting, the board approved matching, up to 50 percent, funding the proposed connection to the interstate.
“We’re working, trying to identify various funding sources that might participate helping pay for that road and most of those sources require local matching funds.”
The plan update is necessary to help draw out the best route while retaining the most marketable properties.
“We don’t want to build a road through our potential large development site here,” Acy said.
The masterplan update was approved with Waggoner Engineering Inc. for $104,900.
NEW SIGNAGE DESIGN CHOSEN
A design competition offered by River Ridge yielded two winners from the University of Kentucky.
Two landscape architecture students, Travis Klondike and Austin Sauer, submitted a winning design for signage at the commerce center.
The design the students submitted was chosen out of 13 submissions and included a stone facade and water feature, set with white text against a black background on the signage.
Tom Vittitow, planning and development manager with River Ridge, said it will be about a year before the commerce center has the signage constructed.
By having their design chosen, the students received a $5,000 prize to split.