$1.4M spec building OK'd by planners

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A $1.4 million "spec-building" received site plan approval from Lewisburg's Planning Commission last week when the city's industrial developer described the project.

Lewisburg is paying for the building being developed on a speculative basis that a new business will need the structure in the city's Business Park just off Mooresville highway, Industrial Developer Terry Wallace said.

Planning commissioners unanimously voted for site plan approval, meaning the location is authorized for a construction permit.

Money for the project is coming "out of pocket" now, City Manager Eddie Fuller said, but a low interest loan from the Tennessee Valley Authority is anticipated and that will counterbalance city costs. Once sold, the city's funding is to be recovered from the buyer.

Construction of so-called spec buildings by municipalities or county governments is not unusual. Other municipalities in South Central Tennessee have taken such steps to prime the pump of development. Lewisburg has built at least three. Each was purchased by a company that came to town with new jobs.

The spec building's contractor is Johnny Chunn, president of Truette Construction, 551 East Commerce St., Wallace said.

In about six weeks, electric power will be needed at the site just north of 10 acres recently sold by the city to The Autom Co. of Phoenix, Ariz., that's building a call center and warehouse in the city's Business Park, Wallace said.

Construction on the spec building should be underway in about two months, he said.

"We're pretty sure that we're going to ... sell it before the roof is on it," Fuller said. "Sometimes it takes 18 months" to locate a buyer for such a building.

Wallace said, "If you don't have a building available, you may not be able to attract somebody to the county.

"This is being built so that it can be custom-fit for their needs," Wallace said, indicating the as-of-yet unknown buyer may have some particular business operations that need a special layout, or floor plan.

"It's going to be a shell," the industrial developer said of the building to be constructed without a floor. "If we put in a six-inch deep (concrete) floor, they may want eight inches."

The ground surface of the inside of the building will be "gravel to a certain grade so they can put in their own floor," he said.

The 63,000-square-foot building is to have 3,000 square feet for office space and the balance for manufacturing, he said.

"It'll be expandable."

The city has no specific prospect in mind for the building, Wallace said.

"We can't do that," he explained. Otherwise, the city should expect the business to construct its own building.

"Hopefully, it won't stay on the market long," Wallace said. "I don't believe it will."

Construction of the spec building will also come with the extension of a road further north into property the city has for the business park.