Huntington buying 125 acres of land for $2.1 million to help attract industry

January 2nd, 2019

By Andrew Maciejewski for The Herald-Press | Indiana Economic Digest

The City of Huntington is expected to grow by 125 acres, after city council agreed to pay Huntington County United Economic Development Corp. (HCUED) more than $1.8 million to purchase land for development.

The contract requires the City to pledge a portion of its local income tax revenues between July 2019 and July 2029 to help HCUED buy property west of Riverfork Industrial Park that will be annexed to the City.

HCUED would retain ownership of the property to “promote significant opportunities for gainful employment of its citizens, attract a major new business enterprise to the City and/or expand a significant business enterprise in the City,” according to the resolution.

Huntington Mayor Brooks Fetters said he and his team have been working since he took office in 2012 to land a deal like this to add “next-generation industrial park space,” since sites are nearly full within city limits.

“Our occupancy rate with our industrial facilities is at roughly 97 percent full, so we have a 3 percent vacancy rate,” Mayor Brooks Fetters said. “If there are companies locally that are looking to expand, they don’t have vacant buildings or a lot of available land space to do that.

“Anytime you’re running that full, you want to be able to say yes anytime a local company says they want to expand… We get site selectors contacting HCUED, the commissioners and the mayor’s office all the time, and they are looking for available space.”

Fetters said he could not comment on whether companies are currently showing interest in the site, at this time, but he said he doesn’t expect it to be on the market very long.

“I can’t imagine that there won’t be interest before too long because it’s served by four-lane highways to the north and to the east,” Fetters said. “It’s served by rail to the north. It’s easily accessible. The Midwest, especially northeast Indiana, is a days drive to about two-thirds of the nation’s population centers. For Huntington, Huntington County, Northeast Indiana, this is a big deal.”

Although a portion of the property is contiguous with current city limits, Fetters said “spot annexation” will be used since the area does not meet state requirements for voluntary or involuntary annexation. Indiana Code allows municipalities to use spot annexation for industrial projects.

Fetters said no taxes will be raised to fund the project, since his administration has budgeted for about a third of current annual income tax revenues to make payments.

The purchase price for the two parcels of land, totaling 125 acres, is $2,121,112 with a down payment of $318,112, and the closing date is set for on or before Jan. 15, 2019.

Huntington Common Council members unanimously approved of the resolution and subsequent contract.