Unique office building will ‘set the style’ for River Ridge Commerce Center


America Place tapped Los Angeles-based wHY Architecture — the same company that remade The Speed Art Museum — to design 108,000 square feet of Class A offices on 11 acres at River Ridge Commerce Center in Southern Indiana.

The two unique buildings, with plenty of trees, walkways and windows to allow in natural light, will “set the style here” for offices, Jim Karp, founder and president of America Place, said at the groundbreaking for the project. To date, the development at the 6,000-acre business park has been mostly warehouses and manufacturing facilities.

“That’s not bad. That’s not bad,” Karp said pointing to the 1 million-square-foot Amazon Fulfillment Center and the 175,000-square-foot A&R Logistics warehouse. “But it’s not our building.”

The pair of office buildings will cost an estimated $25 million to erect. They are a departure not only from the other buildings in River Ridge but also from other buildings that America Place has constructed at River Ridge.

“I think there is some national interest and maybe some international. We’ll see,” Karp said. “I’m not interested in building a very average building.”

No tenants are currently lined up, but Karp expects to lease the two buildings to multiple tenants. While he isn’t targeting one industry, a company in the pharmacy industry could be one possibility. The offices will take about a year to build.

In a video showing scenes from Southern Indiana, wHY Architecture founder Kulapat Yantrasast, who could not attend the groundbreaking, spoke briefly about the potential of the River Ridge and the Ohio River’s history as a trade center.

The building was designed to be “a welcoming center, something that you can see from away, attracting you closer,” Yantrasast said in the video. The design features a balance of nature and a sense of center, and it includes a flexible floor plan. “Anyone can make this work for them.”

Indiana Secretary of Commerce Victor Smith credited the pro-business political climate for attracting new investment, such as the America Place office project.

“We are lucky as Hoosiers to live in a state that’s seen really good economic development, that has seen better performance here than in some of our surrounding states,” Smith said. “There is a reason for that, and that is the policies that are implemented and followed here, from fiscal discipline to just a pro-business state. What that enables is things like today.”

Karp followed Smith’s comments by noting that Indiana government has made Indiana an attractive place to operate.

“Right-to-work brings people here,” Karp said. “It makes a lot of good sense to invest in Southern Indiana right now.”