As companies continue to build in Johnson County, local communities are taking steps to make sure land is available for the next expansion or new business.
A new business park and an expansion of infrastructure to an area undeveloped within a current business park have been proposed in Franklin, and a new 350-acre industrial park is planned near Graham and Worthsville roads in Greenwood.
The developments would open another 100 acres of land in Franklin to businesses, including light industrial and manufacturing companies.
The land is needed because businesses are looking for property for new buildings and expansions, and some of the space in Franklin is starting to fill, Mayor Steve Barnett said. For example, three groundbreakings are planned for new businesses within the Franklin Business Park in October, he said.
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A 68-acre piece of land near Commerce Parkway and Graham Road that is within the Franklin Business Park had been hard to market in the past because of a lack of infrastructure and access, said Dana Monson, Johnson County Development Corp. interim director.
Now, the city is working on a $1.3 million project to build a road that will give access to that property, which includes a new industrial building that the city partnered with a developer to build. The shell building is the second project the city has partnered with Runnebohm Construction to construct. The building will be undeveloped inside, and ready for any business to quickly finish and move in.
The city redevelopment commission already had been planning to build an access road to the new shell building and decided to extend it to the other properties as well, said Bob Heuchan, redevelopment commission member. The project is being paid for with money collected from businesses that pay property taxes within the city’s tax-increment financing or TIF districts, which includes that property, Heuchan said.
Already, one business is planning to move to one of the five-acre lots that the road will provide access to, and another company was interested, Barnett said. And at least three companies are interested in the shell building, he said.
The road also will open another 40 acres of land to development, which could be filled with multiple businesses on five-acre lots — the smallest lot size allowed — or even one large business, Barnett said.
Doing the infrastructure work, which also will include landscaping and sidewalks, hopefully will entice businesses to come to the area, Heuchan and Barnett said.
“We are investing in ourselves and that makes people want to come to our city and invest and grow with us,” Barnett said.
A second business park also is planned on land further southeast, near Hurricane Road and Eastview Drive, which will give companies an option for a smaller piece of property, said Kyle Kasting, who owns the property. The land could also be developed with larger businesses as well, he said.
The 32-acre piece of property would need to be annexed into the city and also needs infrastructure developed, Kasting said. The area would also have one detention pond, allowing businesses to save some cost when building, he said.
Current plans call for six developments on five acres each, with buildings up to 50,000 square feet, but that could change based on who moves in and what size lot they need, he said. Two companies are interested, including one that would be new to Franklin and another that would relocate from another location in Franklin, Kasting said.
“We think it would be a good option to add to the east side of Franklin, and allow businesses some options closer to I-65,” he said.