By BRADEN LAMMERS
Approval of a gateway and road to be constructed off Ind. 311 carries with it the expectation and hopes for the development of Camp Run Commons.
Four years after the plans were conceived, work is finally ready to move forward to help develop Sellersburg’s tax-increment financing district. The Sellersburg Town Council approved a resolution at its meeting Monday night that will allow for the construction of a gateway, traffic light and extension of Enterprise Way off of Ind. 311.
Sellersburg Town Attorney Jake Elder said the bond approved last week by the Sellersburg Redevelopment Commission would initially total about $550,000, but could be issued in a series of bonds up to $1.1 million.
The gateway to the town’s TIF district has moved from its originally planned location near McDonald’s off Enterprise Drive to across the street from the Sellersburg post of the Indiana State Police.
Eric Goodman, vice president of development for API, explained the gateway to the TIF district was going to be up by McDonald’s, but the restaurant chain owned the right-of-way and it was asking for more than $1 million to sell it. To create a new entrance to the site, API offered to construct a new four-lane road that will cut through the middle of its property and install a traffic light at the intersection across from the police post and Ivy Tech Community College.
“The reason why we are doing this is to create new commerce and jobs in Sellersburg, create tax income for the TIF district and then also build a foundation for the future development of Enterprise Way, which would also create a new gateway for the TIF district,” Goodman said.
It would also make the property that is owned by ARC-Sburg LLC — a company owned by Alan Muncy, president of API — adjacent to the new road ripe for development.
The hope is that the construction of the traffic light and of the new Enterprise Way would spur development in the TIF, and that would eventually connect to Ind. 60.
“I know that there is a fear if you spend this money now, is it a road to nowhere?” Goodman asked rhetorically. “We firmly believe it is not.”
He said access to the entrance and road will provide the first step and a foundation for the TIF district. He added that a major concern of the redevelopment commission was that it would agree to build the road and nothing would happen in terms of development.
But to ease the redevelopment commission’s and the town council’s fears, Goodman pointed to two other redevelopment projects — off State Street in New Albany and Eastern Boulevard in Clarksville — in which the company has been involved.
Goodman and Muncy said both developments are near capacity and several council members pointed out that neither development project has as desirable a location as Camp Run Commons.
“All of this is right next to the interstate [and] there’s nothing there,” said Town Councilman Terry Langford.
He also asked if the town will have approval for what goes into the site.
“I don’t want 10 years from now to have empty buildings,” Langford said. “Big empty buildings turned into bingo halls [are] just no good for any community.”
Goodman said the properties would have to fit the town’s zoning ordinances, but the council would not have individual approvals of companies interested locating in the development.
“The most likely users for this particular property are lending institutions, restaurant and retailers because of the proximity to Ivy Tech and because of the proximity to the interstate,” Muncy said. “Unless Ivy Tech goes somewhere in the next 10 years, which I don’t think they’re going to, I doubt if we’re going to have empty buildings,” he added, addressing Langford’s concerns. “Ivy Tech being involved in this project is a huge benefit to us because .... that’s going to drive traffic to that signal.”
As a sign of API’s ability to attract business, Bill Walker, with Big O Tires, attended the meeting and offered his plan to locate at the site once development moves forward. And according to API’s proposal, estimated retail growth will create a property-tax base of $81,000 per year for the town and add up to 150 full- and part-time jobs to Sellersburg.
“This is the gateway we hoped for,” said Town Council President Paul Rhodes said. “Since I’ve been involved in the redevelopment commission, almost from the get-go, one of our faults was we never had a developer working with us.”
The town council unanimously approved the resolution to seek the bond, with the first portion totaling $524,956 for road construction costs and the land purchase. The bond is expected to close July 22.