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64.5 acres back in county’s hands

December 14, 2016

Just when Allen County redevelopment officials thought they’d sold through their inventory of available land for new business and industrial projects, word came last week that it wasn’t so.

On Friday, NorthPoint Development of Riverside, Missouri, outside Kansas City, allowed to expire options it had for three pieces of ground in Stonebridge Business Park across from the General Motors plant.

That turned those plots, comprising about 64.5 acres, back to the control of the commission, which must now find other buyers, members of the redevelopment commission learned during their meeting Tuesday.

“NorthPoint said it had what it needed and they didn’t have anything else in the pipeline, so they wouldn’t be renewing (their options),” said Scott Harrold, senior economic development director for the commission after the meeting.

NorthPoint acquired the options in a land swap last year. The company originally bought some ground in Stonebridge, a “shovel-ready” site, but later decided it wanted contiguous parcels to develop a large trucking facility.

The three now-orphaned parcels are 10 acres at the southwest corner of Zubrick and Stonebridge roads; 25.6 acres on the east side of Stonebridge Road; and 28.9 acres on the west side of Stonebridge and just south of its cul-de-sac.

Elissa McGauley, redevelopment director, said a notice of the land’s availability was posted Tuesday on the website of Greater Fort Wayne Inc., which aids the commission in marketing its properties.

Although the 10-acre site is too small for a large industrial concern, she said it could go for a commercial use. As for the other sites, “I think you might be able to get a mid-sized manufacturing operation to go in there,” she said, adding she did not anticipate problems.

The land is listed at www.greaterfortwayneinc.com for $51,000 per acre and is touted as having great potential for automotive suppliers.

NorthPoint officials could not be reached Tuesday, but their nearly 800,000-square-foot building is under construction. A company representative previously said it should be finished by spring. The building is valued at $15 million in construction documents, but no end user has been named.

In other business, the redevelopment commission approved a purchase agreement for $670,000 for about 52 acres it owned on South Ryan Road, New Haven, from Lippert Components Inc., Elkhart.

Harrold said after the meeting that Lippert plans to consolidate work at the former Signature Seating plant at 6900 Nelson Road with possible new business at a new building it plans for South Ryan Road.

Lippert bought Signature’s New Haven and Auburn factories for $16 million in 2015.

Signature makes seating for watercraft applications, while Lippert is a large manufacturer in the recreational vehicle and related markets.

“Beyond the marine market, we expect to utilize the Signature team to develop furniture solutions for the RV motor home market as well,” said Scott Mereness, president of Drew Industries, which owns Lippert Components, in a news release last year.