MT. COMFORT — A longtime developer of industrial spaces in Hancock County intends to bring four move-in-ready buildings to a portion of the headquarters site for Celadon Trucking that was scrapped last year.

The Peterson Company, which has overseen the construction of multiple properties in the Mt. Comfort area, is working with Indianapolis-based Shear MC2, LLC to build nearly 900,000 square feet of space across four structures near the intersection of West County Road 300N and Mt. Comfort Road. The buildings will sit along 70 acres of land, neighboring the warehouse of online car dealer Carvana.

Celadon fell into financial distress in 2017 and halted its expected $28 million world headquarters that would’ve brought 900 jobs to Hancock County. Now more than a year after Carvana purchased half of the land from Celadon, Shear and The Peterson Company will take over most of the remaining 140 acres.

The Peterson Company’s chief operating officer, Larry Siegler, asked the Hancock County Council last Wednesday for a 10-year standard tax abatement for the “spec” buildings. The council approved the abatement on first reading and they will hold a public hearing at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 12.

Skip Kuker, executive director of the Hancock Economic Development Council, said if the abatement is passed, Shear will save $4.5 million in taxes over 10 years and will pay $4.2 million in taxes in that time on the real estate. The four buildings will be constructed in stages, starting in early 2019, Kuker said.

The land will also need to be rezoned back to an Industrial Business Park designation, Kuker said. Celadon had previously zoned it as a Planned Unit Development. The Hancock County Area Plan Commission will have a public hearing on the rezoning at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 28.

Three of the spec buildings, short for speculative, each are on average 250,000 square feet in size. The fourth building, which will be located near Burger King and Speedway, will be about 100,000 square feet.

Kuker said the county’s biggest hurdle in attracting businesses is availability for square footage. Many companies aren’t just looking for “shovel ready” land, he said — they want existing buildings. Kuker said the county has lost clients because they didn’t have enough move-in-ready space.

“Companies want a building ready for them sitting there so they can walk in and get to work,” Kuker said. “That is the hot commodity today.”

Shear and The Peterson Company are also constructing a 400,000 square-foot spec building on the north side of 300N. Before walls went up, Siegler said they had five companies inquiring about the space.

Starting next month, two tenants will move into the facility — Quest Nutrition, a food distributor, will have a climate controlled center, and Integrated Supply Network, an automotive part manufacturer, will operate a distribution warehouse. Sigler said the two companies will hire over 100 employees combined.

Over the past two decades, Kuker said The Peterson Company has brought over $100 million in assessed value to the county. Siegler said that could rise to $200 million with the addition of the four proposed spec buildings. The company has previously worked with Foamcraft, Brybelly, Landsberg and CVS.

Although Kuker isn’t sure how many employees will end up working in the spec buildings, he said the land will have a higher assessed value than Celadon. Carvana plans to hire 250 employees to start and could increase that to 400.

“It’s kind of amazing the times that we’re having here in Hancock County,” Kuker said. “It’s very very good for development.”

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