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August 22, 2013

Who can it be now, Menards?

Roads paving the way for business development

JEFFERSONVILLE — The promise of a “major announcement” came along with the groundbreaking of a new road that will connect Veterans Parkway and Charlestown-New Albany Pike in Jeffersonville.

Jeffersonville officials took part in the groundbreaking for Town Center Boulevard, a 2,700 foot road that will connect the two main thoroughfares Thursday.

“I was not going to pledge money to do this project until I was assured we had something ready to go and take advantage of this,” said Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore at the groundbreaking. “Once I saw the assurances in black and white, that something was about to take place, I asked the redevelopment board to make this project a reality.”

When asked what assurances he had, Moore deferred the question and said, “I believe you’re going to see a big announcement next week.”

Though Moore and other officials would not reveal the name of the retailer, an agenda for next week’s Redevleopment Commission meeting sent to the News and Tribune included resolution to recommend a tax abament for Menards, Inc.

The home improvement superstore has about 280 locations throughout the Midwest.

When contacted by the News and Tribune, Jeff Abbott, promotions manager and spokesman for Menard, Inc. said in an email “we don’t have anything to report at this time.”

The $1.9 million to pay for the construction of the road is slated to come from the city’s Inner City Road Tax Increment Finance district. The construction is underway and is expected to be completed by December.

At Monday’s Jeffersonville City Council meeting, the council also helped to push forward the development of the area on the east side of Interstate 65. The council approved an ordinance, suspending the rules and passing it on all three required readings, designating Veterans Parkway in Jeffersonville as an Economic Development Target Area.

“The main advantage of establishing an economic development target area is that certain businesses that may not normally be eligible for tax abatements become eligible for tax abatements if they’re located within an economic development target area,” said Corporation Attorney Les Merkley at Monday’s meeting.

He added that it gives the Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission and the city council more flexibility and more possibilities of what they can do to encourage and entice development in the area. The economic development target area is about 17 or 18 acres on the north side of Veterans Parkway.

The description of the property provided to the city council shows 15.8 acres of land abutting Town Center Boulevard and adjacent to Hamburg Pike on the east side. The plat lists Koetter Five Star Properties as the landowner.

Jack Koetter, CEO at the Koetter Group, said his company is working on an agreement with a retailer to locate on the north side of Veterans Parkway, but due to a confidentiality agreement could not divulge the name of the company. He did say it was one company.

“It takes a whole lot of store to take up 16 acres,” Moore said, and hinted that it may not be the only announcement of a business locating in the town center next week.

“There’s much speculation and rumor about what or what not may be coming here,” Moore said. “This project was basically the city’s pledge that we’re serious about developing Veterans Parkway on the Jeff side and I think really soon, possibly the middle of next week, you may see a meeting take place that is going to be a major announcement. This road led the way to that happening and I think you’re going to see many, many more things come from this.”

The pending announcement will follow several other businesses that have announced they will locate, or have expanded in the area.

BoomBozz Pizza & Taphouse announced in June that it will take over the former 6,000-square-foot Beef O’Brady’s location in the Jeffersonville Town Center on Veterans Parkway. The restaurant is expected to seat 195 people and include patio seating.

Accent Marketing, which provides customer service support for a variety of national brands, opened a 34,000-square-foot facility on the north end of the Jeffersonville Town Center in 2012. The company has about 400 employees.

About a week before Accent Marketing opened its facility, a 350 job expansion was announced at Advanced Metal Technologies, a manufacturer on the south end of the development.

Construction of Town Center Boulevard will also create a new entrance for Advance Metal Technologies and include a traffic signal at Town Center Boulevard and Charlestown-New Albany Pike.

Koetter said that along with the new retail space that is expected to be constructed in the shopping center, interest in the area has increased..

“We have a lot of momentum building now.” Koetter said. “The road’s going to be a big asset.”

Moore again said he expects businesses to continue to locate in the Town Center.

“The Jeffersonville side of Veterans Parkway is starting to take shape, the landscape is changing and this is one more step in a line of things we hope to accomplish,” he said. “Jeffersonville is busting at the seams and we’re doing it [in] all different aspects. We’re ahead of the curve here. We’re building the road in anticipation of some more coming.”

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Theater students rehearse a scene from "Seussical the Musical," directed by Silver Creek Theater Director, Alonzo Richmond, and New Albany Theater Director Amy Harpenau at the New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater Thursday evening. The musical includes around 70 students from 12 local schools that will be performing Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.

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