Culver Business Park

Bletzinger's vision of a Business Park on the Sand Hill Farm propertyJay Bletzinger has a vision for a new business park in Culver.  He has commissioned Scearce Rudisel Architects to create some preliminary drawings and site plans.  He has looked at a couple of locations and one of them is my Sand Hill Farm property.  The other is the 19+ acre property owned by JD One JD Two, Inc. (locally known as the Jefferson Street Dicke Property) bordered by Jefferson St., Mill St., and S.R. 17.  I’ve discussed the possibility of a Sand Hill Farm PUD here before, but due to the sluggish economy I’ve pretty much put the idea on hold.  Possibly this is a reason to resurrect the idea.  Jay has put together some interesting ideas and has plans to be the first tenant!

Preliminary Concept Drawings were previously commissioned for both of these properties by the Culver Redevelopment Commission (CRC).  Those drawings were prepared by Lehman & Lehman and presented to the CRC in 2007.  (I have a hard copy, but if electronic copies exist, I do not have access to them.)  This led to the CRC extending water and sewer to the end of Jefferson Street in hopes of spurring development on the Dicke property.  Along with the utility extensions there were plans for relocating power lines, widening Jefferson Street, adding sidewalks and landscaping the area with new trees and sod.  Unfortunately negotiations with NIPSCO fell apart and the completion of this project was put on hold.

Culver Business Park Floor PlanJay believes that there is a need for incubator office and manufacturing space in Culver and that these can be combined in a viable business park.  The building plan shows back to back suites with offices at the front, manufacturing/warehousing at the back.  The rear of each suite would back up against a common loading dock area.  The “front” of the building would consist of small commercial office spaces.  In both cases, the offices and the manufacturing/warehousing spaces are divided by walls that are non-load bearing so that they can be removed to provide flexibility in rental space.  Jay’s initial build-out ideas and cost/lease projections are here and continued here.

As I am envisioning the construction, the main structure would be a single slope pre-engineered metal building for the manufacturing/warehouse space.  The office space would be conventional framing, either stick-built or steel stud construction.  Everything would be slab-on-grade.  The emphasis would be on flexibility.  Indiana’s new Energy Code  (effective April 5, 2012) has forced some changes to the original plan shown above, the most notable being the addition of air-lock vestibules for the side units and a reconfiguration to emphasize the rear entries for the offices.  (Where more than one suite is combined, there would be room to add vestibule entrances for store front entries.)

Jay’s drawings show the entrance off of State Road 17.  I perceive that as an excellent feature, but probably cost and time prohibitive.  First there is a significant hill there that would have to be navigated, possibly with the requirement for accel/decel lanes.  That could be overcome, but it would be costly.  Second, Walker-Tenneco, the previous owners of the Elkay plant just to the south, tried for years to get a curb cut from INDOT.  The Elkay plant was only able to get the curb cut with the help of the newly formed IEDC and the associated push from Governor Daniels’ office.  At that time the abandoned plant was designated a dinosaur property  using IRTC and there were special efforts and concessions made in order to facilitate the sale and bring those new jobs to Indiana.  I don’t think we could get that kind of intervention here on a speculative project like this.  That means either we wouldn’t be able to get the curb cut or it would take an inordinately long time.  Since there is access available on Jefferson Street, I don’t see this as an issue.

This project was discussed at the last meeting of the Culver Redevelopment Commission (CRC).  If it were to go forward it would need help from the CRC and the CRC would probably want to expand Culver’s TIF II district to include this property.  We’re not there yet, but I generally believe it’s best to keep all the players informed rather than in the dark.  The CRC should be able to help with this project since it would fit within their mission.

Check back to see future updates on this development idea.

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