How a 429-acre piece of Warren County rebounded from bankruptcy to an Amazon-led resurgence

A 429-acre business park in Warren County once mired in bankruptcy is now on the verge of being fully developed.

Amazon is one of eight companies that have located or are in the process of locating in the Park North at Monroe development, just east of Interstate 75 off Ohio 63.

About 1,800 jobs are to have been created by a project that has received millions in tax incentives and credits from the state, local government, and the Warren County Port Authority.

In 2007, as the port authority was being established, it issued $10 million in debt for water lines, sewers and other infrastructure for what was then known as the Corridor 75 Premier Logistics Park.

RELATED: Logistics park awaits economic recovery

“That was our first port project,” said Martin Russell, executive director of the port authority and director of the county’s economic development department.

Vandercar Holdings, the company managing the development at the time, was to make payments on the debt, Russell said. When the recession hit the development went through foreclosure.

RELATED: New tenant moving from West Chester to Monroe

In 2012, IDI Gazeley, an Atlanta-based logistic development company, acquired the park for about $14 million, according to Warren County Auditor Matt Nolan.

Total property values were unavailable on the Amazon building and others recently built for Hayneedle and Blue Buffalo. Those housing a Home Depot Rapid Deployment Center, Cornerstone Services, Vallen and Serta Simmons Bedding and UGN are now worth more than $60 million, according to county property records.

RELATED: Lease signed on 755,000 square foot warehouse-distribution center

The entire commerce park is in a community investment area established by the City of Monroe. Property taxes are forgiven on improvements for 15 years.

For 30 years, property tax collections are diverted into a special fund set up by the port authority used to pay off the $10 million infrastructure debt taken on in 2007, Russell said.

And eight of 10 buildings are owned by the port authority and leased to IDI or the companies, saving them on sales tax charges on materials used in construction.

RELATED: Auto parts supplier to expand, add jobs in Monroe

Home Depot and Cornerstone own their buildings. The other eight - including one under construction and another yet to attract a tenant - are all owned by the port authority through lease deals with the tenants or IDI, according to Matt Schnipke, port authority deputy director.

“We work with the developer and tenants to offer these incentives as an attraction tool. All of the businesses in Park North are great partners for the City of Monroe & Warren County. It is part of our job on the front end to provide and administer necessary incentives that help foster the business decision to invest in the City and Warren County,” Schnipke said in an email.

Illinois-based auto parts maker UGN recently agreed to add 111 jobs, bringing employment there to more than 280 in exchange for several incentives provided on a $9 million, 154,000 square foot expansion.

It was the second deal between UGN and the port authority, which approved a similar lease deal with operators of the Miami Valley Gaming racino in 2014.

RELATED: UGN, racino deals approved by port authority in 2014

UGN said the 233,000 square foot expansion would add about $6 million in salaries, enriching Monroe’s income tax collections. The company indicated it chose Park North over a site in Indiana.

In the lease deal, the authority’s closing fee is to be $47,250. UGN also agrees to pay $15,000 in legal fees, according to Schnipke.

Still UGN should save about $252,000 in sales tax on construction materials, Schnipke said. Work was expected to begin soon.

In addition, Monroe City Council, citing the “high level of interstate competition,” approved an ordinance authorizing a 50 percent net profits rebate for UGN for eight years starting with tax year 2019.

The legislation also waived 30 percent of building fees for the company and extended a reduction in the water rate to $5.09 per 1,000 gallons an addition two-and-a-half years to 10 years.

RELATED: Amazon is expanding rapidly in Ohio

For the Amazon development, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved a 10-year tax credit. The 1,000-square foot facility is expected to provide 1,000 jobs and $26.7 million in new payroll. As part of the tax credit agreement, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority says Amazon will have to maintain operations at the Monroe location for at least 13 years.

Public records also show IDI, through a limited liability corporation set up for Park North, entered into an agreement with the city of Monroe for a property tax abatement. The agreement indicated site development and construction is expected to cost more than $70 million.

“The construction and operation of the facility is predicated on being able to achieve the requested tax abatement of 100 percent of improvements for 15 years as described in the existing Development Agreement with the city. The facility will be required to be competitive on a regional basis and able to compete with other tax-abated property,” according to the the tax abatement documents.

RELATED: How Monroe landed Amazon 

In a statement, Sanjay Shah, Amazon’s vice president of North America Customer Fulfillment, said: “The support of local leaders and incredible workforce has been instrumental in our decision to locate the new fulfillment center in the state, and we are grateful for the support we’ve received to bring new jobs and investment to Ohio.”

Serta and UGN do manufacturing in their buildings, but Park North is mainly about distribution, one of a global network of facilities managed by IDI.

IDI did not respond for requests for interviews for this story.

“IDI Logistics is a portfolio company of Brookfield Property Partners, a $155 billion owner, operator and investor in best-in-class real estate around the globe. As part of Brookfield, we have the assets and expertise to strengthen our presence in both developed and emerging global markets,” according to the company web site.

RELATED: Warren County Port Authority to sign leases with Park North developer

The development also helps supply a global economy heavily reliant on quick distribution of a multitude of products.

According to a recent Cass Freight Index Report, the U.S. freight economy continues to show a “strong positive outlook.” June 2018 shipments were up 7.2 percent year-over-year.

Russell said IDI, Monroe, the state and the port authority should share in the credit for building out the once-struggling Park North.

IDI had expertise and capital, while the governments provided incentives sweetening the deals for prospective companies, Russell added.

‘You put all that in a bucket, you shake it together and you’ve got the makings,” he said.

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