FAIRFIELD ― A $50 million development project on Seward Road is on schedule to add two new e-commerce and light industrial buildings.
Ambrose Property Group broke ground in mid-July on the new 137-acre Fairfield Commerce Park, formerly known as the Liberty Mutual campus. Eric Seamands, development manager for the Indianapolis-based developer, said these two buildings will be complete sometime in March. As many as three more buildings could be built on the site, he said.
Liberty Mutual sold its property at 9450 Seward Road and the adjacent vacant land for more than $17 million in two transactions. The insurance company has 1,100 employees, making it the city’s fourth-largest employer. Liberty Mutual remains in the existing building as a tenant, but that lease expires in 2021, Seamands said.
“We feel really good about it,” Seamands said of the project. “The city of Fairfield has been a great partner so far and we’re just really excited about the potential of this park.”
The project will fill a potential employment void created as Liberty Mutual, formerly Ohio Casualty, could leave Fairfield next year. Fairfield Development Services Director Greg Kathman said city leaders will make “every effort” to help the insurance company find a site within the city.
The decision to sell and leave the site was “a way for us to decrease costs and improve competitiveness,” Liberty Mutual spokesman Glenn Greenberg told the Journal-News in January.
Ambrose Property plans to invest up to $50 million in the project. Construction on two buildings — one 246,000 square feet and another 300,000 square feet — is underway, and the design on a third building will begin this fall. The developer will also keep the existing 276,000-square-foot building.
Ultimately the project could bring 600 to 1,000 jobs to the city from businesses in the e-commerce and light industrial industries, Seamands said.
“E-commerce is still a very strong sector, and getting stronger through the pandemic,” he said. “There is just the need for companies to sell things over the internet versus in a retail setting, and it’s become even more important. I think the whole industry sees that rising, which is right in Ambrose’s wheelhouse in buildings we are trying to develop.”
Fairfield City Council approved in June a tax incentive agreement for the project. Part of the incentive is the city’s standard Community Reinvestment Agreement, a 10-year, 75 percent property tax abatement on renovations and new construction, with payments to the Fairfield City Schools and Butler Tech.
However, part of it includes performance-based elements.
Ambrose Property Group has committed to specific income tax revenue targets to ensure enough jobs have been created at the business park. If tenants do not achieve those targets, Ambrose Property Group will make up the difference in the designated tax year or forgo the abatement for that year.
New construction and building renovations are eligible for the 10-year abatement until 2028.
City officials and Seamands have said they do not believe there will be an issue achieving tax revenue targets.