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Published: Thursday, 9/27/2012

Port board OKs deal for Columbus developer to build at former Jeep plant

BLADE STAFF

The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority today approved a partnership agreement with a Columbus developer to build the first building for prospective business tenants at the former Jeep factory site in central Toledo.

The board unanimously approved the public-private partnership with Harmon Family Development Corporation to do site and infrastructure planning on the 111-acre property known as Overland Industrial Park. Board members Bernard "Pete" Culp, Bailey Stanberry and Sharon Speyer abstained from the vote.

The initial agreement is at no cost, based on an agreement in which the authority and Harmon will share initial planning expenses and then share any future net revenue from the project, explained Matt Sapara, the port's vice president for facilities development. The port authority will receive additional revenue from future land lease, he said.

Mr. Sapara said Harmon, a family-operated business out of Columbus run by Ed Harmon, will bring a second recommendation before the board in about six months that will detail the project, including size and other design aspects, as well as construction costs, and the board at that time can revisit the project.

If a construction agreement is finalized within that time period, he said, the first building could be up by the summer of 2013.

The port authority in 2011 unveiled a development plan for the 930,000-square-foot industrial complex that included five large buildings ranging in size from between 126,000 square feet and 200,000 square feet, and two smaller buildings of 24,000 and 30,000 square feet, all along the property's eastern edge.

The port authority presently does not have a prospective tenant for the building, port president Paul Toth said. 

"We hope we can find a tenant prior to the start of construction, but if we don't, we are still committed to move forward [with the project]," Mr. Toth said.

Steven R. Rauch Inc. of Dayton was awarded an almost $1.4 million contract last November to remove old foundations and other remnants of the old Jeep plant from the southern third of the property, which the agency bought in 2010 from a Chrysler Corp. asset-liquidation company. In July, the authority agreed to increase the contract amount by about $720,000 when it was discovered that more concrete structures than were anticipated were in need of removal.



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