Developers Have High Hopes for Noblesville Business Park

Developers Have High Hopes for Noblesville Business Park

Developers Have High Hopes for Noblesville Busines Park

October 13, 2003 - Indianapolis Business Journal (Special to IBJ)

By: Ed Callahan

It's pretty flat out around Noblesville, but the developers of the new Saxony Corporate Campus hope to scale new heights with their project.

Rick Arnos, president of Toledo-based Republic Development, said the 280-acre complex's location on the west side of Interstate 69 at Exit 10 is a prime site with visibility that will appeal to the high-profile tenants Republic seeks to attract.

"If a significant life sciences player were to be coming into Indiana, particularly from the East Coast," Arnos said, "they would want to sit on their own mountaintop."

While Republic isn't building an actual mountain in Noblesville, the location on I-69 will provide similar visibility, according to Arnos.

Infrastructure work already has begun on the development, which is planned to contain nearly 3 million square feet of office, warehouse and light industrial space. Reaching such size would make it one of the largest business parks in the area.

By the time it is completed, an esti-mated 10 to 15 years, the businesses there could employ as many as 5,000 workers.

The Saxony Corporate Campus is part of a 700-acre mixed-use development straddling the Noblesville-Fishers border on either side of I-69. Overall, the project is to include 3.5 million square feet of corporate uses, 1 million square feet of retail space, and 1,250 living units, both single- and multi-family. While most of the corporate uses will be west of I-69, retail and residential are planned for Saxony Village, on the east side in Fishers.

Arnos said Republic is talking with a number of potential tenants already. He declined to identify those possible tenants, but said Republic particularly is interested in attracting life sciences firms.

Republic is developing the business park in close cooperation with Noblesville. City officials approved a tax increment financing district for the development, which means part of the tax revenue from the property will pay off $18 million in bonds issued by Noblesville to pay for public improvements at the site.

Included in these improvements are 2-1/2 miles of roads, 1,700 feet of sewer lines, and a regional storm-water drainage system.

"It's an awfully ambitious economic project," said Chris Hamm, the city's economic development director. "Undoubtedly, it's the most aggressive initiative we've undertaken."

City officials are willing to make that effort because they realized that if Noblesville were going to compete for its share of the growth along I-69, the city had to have the site ready for development, Hamm said.

Real estate observers agree infrastructure improvements will be vital to Saxony's success. The biggest single factor may be the planned extension of 146th Street, which doesn't extend yet through the site to intersect with I-69, according to Ross Reller, land development director at Indianapolis-based Meridian Real Estate.

Noblesville officials plan to build the extension in segments as the area develops, with the Saxony project supplying its share of the funding through TIF revenue.

The extension of 146th is important because it would make the site easily accessible from all of Hamilton County west of the White River, Reller said. He compared the potential impact to the effect the 96th Street bridge had five years ago, when its opening gave a tremendous boost to development along that corridor.

"My only concern is that the 146th Street extension won't be built fast enough for Saxony to capture the growth coming to the I-69 corridor," he said.

Arnos said Republic was aware of the importance of 146th Street. Though a date hasn't been set yet, it's possible work on the final connector segment will start in 2006. Construction probably will take a year, he said.

The new road won't benefit just Saxony, Arnos added. Republic's project is just part of a 3,200-acre area Noblesville has designated for corporate park development.

Overall, observers gave the project high marks for its concept and design.

"They're doing a good job of master planning for the site," said Mark Writt, senior vice president for commercial property at the local office of national real estate firm CB Richard Ellis. The developer and Noblesville are doing a good job of working together, he said.

Writt and Reller noted the site is big and has to compete against other corporate parks in the area that also hope to capture life sciences business. That's why it will probably take 10 to 15 years to build out the complex, they said.

Hamm said the current road projects should be finished by May. Most of the new sewer system is already finished. Though no developers have announced plans to build in the corporate campus, the Wesleyan Church is building its world headquarters on Olio Road in the Saxony Village part of the project.