Indiantown Industrial Park giving away lot to someone who will create jobs

TC Palm Business
By Paul Ivice

INDIANTOWN — The commercial real estate market on the Treasure Coast has become so soft that the owner of a new industrial development can’t give away land.

Not for lack of trying. The offer has been on the table for more than six months with no takers yet.

The catch, though, is that for a company to get a free 2.6-acre lot, it must bring about 50 jobs, enough for the developer of 140-acre Venture Park to qualify for federal grants to subsidize a significant portion of the cost of laying 2.8 miles of water and sewer trunk lines from Indiantown’s privately owned utility company.

Venture Park is north of Warfield Boulevard on the west side of Indiantown.

“We would like to appeal to light manufacturers, such as boat building, aircraft and auto parts suppliers,” said Jeff Chamberlin, president of SLC Commercial in Stuart, which represents Venture Park’s owner, Porto Properties LLC.

He said at $6 a square foot, the lot’s value is more than $679,000.

“You have to be creative today,” said Paul Filipe, owner of the property.

Chamberlin said a warehouse operation typically would not have enough jobs to meet the requirements.

He said 90 percent of the infrastructure within Venture Park is complete, but they can’t sell lots until there is water and sewer service.

“The lack of water and sewer lines is a barrier we’ve got to overcome,” said Ron Bunch, executive director of the Business Development Board of Martin County.

On the way to Venture Park, a trunk line would also pass Indiantown Commerce & Technology Park, on the south side of Warfield Boulevard.

David Powers, a partner in Indiantown Realty and part of a group that owns that 100-acre industrial park, said he isn’t yet ready to offer a free lot, in part because “we’ve slowed things down until we can see some recovery in the market or we can get some sales.”

Venture Park is permit-ready, the first such industrial park in Martin County, which means buildings that fit the master site plan are pre-approved. Indiantown Commerce & Technology Park followed suit, though infrastructure in the park isn’t nearly as far along as Venture Park’s.

Getting the permit-ready status for these industrial parks took about 4 1/2 years, meaning the developers did not begin marketing their property until after the recession began.

“We’re treading new ground,” Chamberlin said.

Bunch said, “Fifty jobs that’s a pretty good-size project in this economy.”

Bunch said he is lobbying the state Legislature to get the area designated an enterprise zone, which would add state incentives such as sales tax and corporate tax credits to make Venture Park more attractive to businesses and investors.

Kevin Freeman, Martin County community development director, said he may recommend that the county contribute toward the cost of the portion of the trunk lines within the Indiantown community redevelopment area.

Freeman said his department “is looking at allocating money to projects or events that would help commercial or industrial development, especially job creation, and pulling away from projects that are for beautification only.”

Martin County “is much more receptive these days to commercial development,” Chamberlin said. “I think they realize that commercial development is more than just rooftops.”

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