$53M in bonds marked for Fairfield Trade Center development

Credit: Provided

Credit: Provided

The latest speculative business park to be developed in Fairfield will receive $53 million in financing support from the Butler County Port Authority.

The port authority approved on March 21 the issuance of economic development lease revenue bonds for the NorthPoint Development speculative project called Fairfield Trade Center, which faces several logistical challenges.

Butler County Development Director David Fehr said the state authorizes port authorities to assist with economic development, which is why Butler County’s agency is assisting.

“One of our tools is to enter into agreements with companies which provides an exemption from Ohio sales tax on building materials for new construction,” he said, which NorthPoint will repay the bond amount.

NorthPoint has developed several industrial buildings in the area West Chester Twp., Fairfield, and Hamilton areas, and Fehr said the developer “has consistently created quality developments.”

This latest project will be at 8250 Seward Road where a pair of speculative industrial buildings will be constructed for e-commerce, general distribution, and manufacturing companies. Most of the 83-acre property is within the city, with about 6 acres on the property’s eastern edge in West Chester Twp. That’s also the access point to the property, and township officials said they would provide the site with roadway access to Union Centre Boulevard via Firebird Drive.

The construction price tag is estimated at $41 million, with a total project cost of $63 million, according to city documents. In October, the project was initially expected to cost $57 million. The project, according to city documents, is expected to be completed by spring 2024.

This property is also adjacent to an existing segment of the Miami-to-Miami/Miami-Erie Canal Trail, which is accessible both at Seward Road and the end of Firebird Drive. NorthPoint has had discussions with Butler County MetroParks regarding the potential to create complementary recreational opportunities on portions of the development site that contain wetlands that may be used for stormwater management.

The project would provide the city of Fairfield with a total of 609,000 square feet of new industrial space that should attract at least 312 new jobs with an estimated combined payroll of more than $11.6 million a year. Fairfield officials are “excited” about this project because they thought this land was destined to remain undeveloped given it’s completely within the flood plain.

“It’s a nice project,” said Fairfield Development Services Director Greg Kathman. “They figured out a way to put some acreage into development that I didn’t think would ever get developed. It’s a very challenging site, and they’re only able to utilize about half of the site because of those issues.”

To accommodate the development, NorthPoint would need to install an 18-acre retention pond, which Fairfield Economic Development Manager Nathaniel Kaelin called “massive.” The Fairfield Logistics business park to the north of this proposed project also has very large retention ponds, saying, “it’s common in that area.”

“For many years, it was thought that this property was undevelopable,” he said. “There were conversations about converting it to a park, so we’re really excited the developer has found a way to maximize the developable area on the property.”

Fairfield City Council approved last fall a 10-year, 75% property tax abatement to assist the project. The developer at Fairfield City Schools and Butler Tech have agreed to school compensation agreements.

The agreement is also performance-based, given the development’s speculative nature. If prospective tenants cannot generate enough payroll to meet income tax targets in a given year of the abatement, NorthPoint would either make up the difference or forgo the abatement for that year.

NorthPoint project manager Tim McElroy could not be reached for comment prior to the Journal-News deadline, but said last fall they were “able to figure out a way to make this work.”

“It certainly helps that over the past few years, industrial real estate has been a really, really hot asset,” he said this past October. “Industrial land values have gone up, industrial building values have gone up, the rents have gone up.”

McElroy also said they plan to maintain ownership of the property even after the buildings are occupied. Their first project in Cincinnati was just to the west of this proposed project on Seward Road several years ago, and they still own those buildings. McElroy said NorthPoint, which is headquartered in Kansas with a regional office in Cincinnati’s Over-The-Rhine, owns property across the country.

Because of this project, Fairfield City Council expanded in October its Northeast Area TIF District, an economic development tool allowing local governments to finance public infrastructure improvements.

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