Company seeks tax break in Franklin

Commissioners ask about jobs; Final vote up to council

A new development in Franklin got the initial OK for a 10-year tax break, but city officials raised concerns about how much the future jobs will pay.

Members of the Franklin Economic Development Commission approved a tax break for Sunbeam Development, which is planning a new logistics building on 62 acres off King Street, east of Interstate 65. The tax break still would need approval from the city council.

Who will move into the building isn’t yet known. The developer is building the facility but will leave the inside unfinished until a company decides to move in.

The company is investing $18 million into the new building, which will be a minimum of 600,000 square feet, and could be as large as 1 million square feet, according to documents filed with the city.

Board member John Ditmars raised concern about the pay of jobs that a new company would bring to the building, which is expected to be used for logistics and warehousing. Ditmars also questioned the length of the abatement, since the city would have no say on the type of company moving in and the types of jobs a warehousing facility is likely to bring, compared to the jobs the city wants, he said.

Years ago, city officials had approved a now-expired commitment that a development of 100,000-square-feet or bigger at that location in the Franklin Tech Park would qualify for a 10-year tax break. Now, the building coming there could be 10 times that size, said Ken Austin, a member of the economic development commission and city council.

The city also can adjust a future tax break on the equipment in the facility, if that is requested, based on the company moving in, the number of jobs and wages, Austin said.

Sunbeam Development has done other developments in Mooresville, on the north side in Fishers and Castleton and in Ohio, and they are known for being quality buildings, said Dana Monson, interim director of the Johnson County Development Corp. The development company typically develops office parks, shopping centers and light industrial centers, according to the filing with the city.

Companies that move in are usually on the higher end of the logistics scale, using more technical equipment that requires higher skills and often paying more than other warehousing jobs, Monson said. That could be the difference between $10 per hour and $14 to $16 per hour, she said.

The developer hopes to bring in a company that will pay higher than the county’s average wage, according to the filing with the city.

The building could be broken into multiple tenants if it reaches 1 million square feet, and that would likely bring in a minimum of 200 to 300 jobs, she said.

The city also would benefit from the building and the taxes it brings in, regardless of the jobs and wages, she said. The company is estimated to pay more than $3 million in taxes during the 10-year abatement period, according to the filing with the city.

Mayor Steve Barnett supports the 10-year tax break, and said in a statement that the proposed facility is a significant investment, fits well with the east side gateway into the city and that the company has historically been successful.

The economic development commission approved the 10-year tax break 4-1, with Ditmars voting no. The measure will now go to the city council for approval.

If approved, construction could begin as soon as next fall, the filing said.

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.