Solid game plan emerging on new shell building

Both current and future Commissioners will be involved as officials move forward with construction of a new “shell” building for economic development.

Monday, members of the Henry County Redevelopment Commission agreed they’d like to see Runnebohm Construction, builder of the last shell building, hired again to do the new one. They set a public hearing on the matter for 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 3, in the Old Circuit Courtroom of the Henry County Courthouse.

RDC member Jon Madison suggested involving Steve Dellinger, the Middle District Commissioner candidate who has no opposition in November, as well as Southern District GOP nominee Bobbi Plummer and her Democrat opponent, Chris Newkirk. They will be kept “in the loop” along with current Commissioners Kim Cronk and Ed Yanos, whose terms expire at the end the of year, as well as Northern District Commissioner Ed Tarantino.

New Castle-Henry County EDC President Corey Murphy agreed all should be part of the discussion.

“I think the message to the incoming Commissioners is this started the moment Boar’s Head purchased the other shell building,” Murphy said. “We’re not on a six-month rush time frame. We are methodically working through this and here’s where we’re at, here’s why, and here’s the direction. And from a timing perspective, it would be very detrimental to the project in my view and I assume your view, very detrimental to the county to wait until January to do these improvements.”

A year ago, Boar’s Head announced its intentions to purchase the former shell building on the north side of CR 400 S, across the street of their main New Castle processing plant, and expand their operations.

So, what had served as a giant billboard for prospective businesses was gone. Murphy and others agreed a new one is needed.

The plans will resemble the first shell building, Murphy said. It will encompass 50,000 square feet and be expandable to 200,000 square feet. The building will also have a 32-foot clearance, just like the one Boar’s Head is expanding into now.

“We’re trying to design in such a way that allows for maximum flexibility,” Murphy said.

Runnebohm Construction Inc., a Shelbyville company, was one of just two firms expressing interest in Henry County’s latest project. RDC members expressed some surprise not more bidders came forward. Runnebohm Construction answered the RDC’s “request for proposal” in conjunction with GM Development, Architura and FPBH.

A second proposal came from A.G. Commercial Real Estate, LLC, partnering with Ferguson Construction Company but the overall bid and “comfort level” with Runnebohm led RDC members to recommend the Shelbyville firm again.

RDC members authorized Murphy to meet with commissioners on their behalf regarding the financing of a building project and to discuss the potential of refinancing bond issues in conjunction with the building project and land acquisition.

“I think it would be in the best interests of the projects overall, with our number one priority being the shell building and some potential land acquisition, that I engage in discussion with the county commissioners in a formal capacity on your behalf,” Murphy said.

Site for the new shell building has not quite been determined. It will be either north or west of the former Shell building, Murphy said.

In a related matter, the County RDC approved a $1,500 claim for Shrewsberry and Associates LLC, an Indianapolis firm, for assistance in the review of shell building RFPs (requests for proposals). RDC members also approved hiring the firm to assist Murphy during the current shell building project.

“Corey’s concern is that we have someone in addition to Corey who is representing the commission during the project,” County RDC Chairman Scott Hayes said. “They would be available right now.”

“They’re probably worth every penny to have them with us,” RDC member Paul Janssen said.

Murphy emphasized the assistance from Shrewsberry should not be interpreted as a negative to Runnebohm.

“This is me attempting to appropriately represent the commission to the best of my ability,” Murphy said. “As we move through this process, we’re also exploring our finance options. Those include using the build-operate-transfer statute or a traditional bond issue Jason Semler with Baker-Tilly is working with local financial institutions in receiving proposals not only on this project but a potential refinance of some of our existing debt.”

– Story by Darrel Radford (DRadford@TheCourierTimes.comof The Courier-Times. Read more local stories at www.TheCourierTimes.com.

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