Same land, third owner for Innovation Park lot

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Marysville City Council is expected to hear legislation tonight that would clear the way for spec building to be constructed inside the city’s Innovation Park. Southgate asking to buy land so it can construct a building inside the park. Southgate does not have identified end users for many of the suites inside the building but hopes that once it’s built, users will come. (Photo submitted)

For the third time in three years, Marysville officials are making an agreement to have a facility built in the Innovation Park in hopes that it will draw tenants.
At tonight’s Marysville City Council meeting, the board is expected to consider legislation that would allow the city to sell about 16.67 acres of Innovation Park to Newark-based Southgate Corporation. City Manager Terry Emery said that due to the speed of the project, the price is “still being negotiated.” He said that will likely be finalized during an executive session during tonight’s meeting.
According to the legislation, the buildings will serve as “Class A industrial manufacturing, technology, and/or general office, and distribution space.”
The property is currently zoned M-2, which generally facilitates manufacturing but permits research.
Union County Economic Development Director Eric Phillips said Southgate is planning a two-phase approach. The first phase will include an 84,000 square-foot building. He said the building will represent a $5-million investment and a minimum of 75 jobs. The second phase will be similar to the first.
But there could be a hang-up.
Union County officials have helped the company apply for a $2-million grant through Jobs Ohio.
“This whole deal is contingent on getting the grant funding,” Phillips explained.
He explained he is optimistic about the proposal’s chances because there is an identified site and an identified buyer. He said he hopes to hear about the grant “soon.”
As part of the legislation, the city will provide a 75% property tax abatement for 10 years on project.
Phillips explained that Southgate will not actually use the building, but will divide it into sections of about 18,000 square feet leased to companies that want space in the Innovation Park, but do not want to build their own facility.
He said a lot of companies don’t want their own facility and won’t come to an area unless there is a building ready or under construction. He said the overall vacancy rate for industrial facilities is very low and that if someone builds the facilities, companies will come.
“We have lost projects to other communities because we don’t have product and this gives us product,” Phillips said.
He said the long-discussed Automotive Motor Innovation Center (AMIC) could locate in the building. The AMIC is expected to house an entrepreneurial center and business incubator, office and co-working space for emerging companies as well as state agencies involved in automotive and smart mobility, a testing lab, a data center, space for K-12 and higher education institution and a display area to promote and educate citizens on smart mobility. An additional potential component of the AMIC includes space dedicated for Traffic Management System Operations for the Ohio Department of Transportation.
The city has received about $1.5 million in grant funding to build a facility.
Phillips said another potential occupant would be a Union County Council of Governments data center. He said the COG is hoping to use a grant through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to build a joint data center.
Phillips said he has “a number of leads we have been working on.”
He said the hope is that once businesses get established in that building, they will expand and want their own facility in the Innovation Park.
Unlike previous projects that had a six-month due-diligence period for developers to consider their plans, the agreement with Southgate has a 60-day due-diligence period.
“They want to move quickly,” Phillips said.
Emery said the company would like to be turning dirt by October.
“That’s their goal so we have our work cut out for us,” Emery said. “It is an exciting opportunity.”
He said this project along with the Alcorta project and other economic development matters, he is “confident Marysville will come out of this time stronger than many other communities.”
In 2016, the city paid almost $5 million for the 203 acres of Innovation Park. At the time, officials said companies had already expressed interest in the site.
Exactly one year ago, city officials approved a nearly identical agreement, for a similar project on the same site, with BlueScope Properties Group LLC. BlueScope agreed to pay about $916,800 for the ground. Ultimately, BlueScope pulled out of the deal.
In 2018 the city announced Elford Construction of Columbus would purchase about 11 acres of land for $706,500. Elford had also intended to build two spec buildings, but pulled out of the deal due to a lack of tenants.
In August 2018 the city completed a road inside the Innovation Park that allowed developers to access additional lots.



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