Property that will become the River Ridge Gateway Office Campus at River Ridge Commerce Center | Courtesy of River Ridge

The River Ridge Development Authority approved a deal Monday to give the development firm Hollenbach-Oakley the exclusive right to develop up to 600 acres at River Ridge Commerce Center.

With this decision, the authority, which oversees the 6,000-acre business park, seems to have doubled the amount of land Louisville-based Hollenbach-Oakley could develop at River Ridge. In March, the company was awarded a contract to develop 80 acres into an office park, and a news release at the time noted that the deal could be expanded to up to 300 acres.

“We’re really looking forward to working with Jerry Acy,” John Hollenbach, managing partner of Hollenbach-Oakley, told Insider in a phone interview. “It’s an exciting project. They have done everything right so far, and we just want to add one more aspect.”

The deal is Hollenbach-Oakley’s “first significant stake” in Southern Indiana, he said.

Half the property, located near the entrance off State Road 265 in Southern Indiana, will be part of River Ridge Gateway Office Campus, while the other half will be River Ridge Research Campus.

“This is a real game-changer for River Ridge,” Jerry Acy, executive director of the authority, said in the release. “To date, most of the development at the center has been logistics, manufacturing and warehousing jobs. We love the firms that are here, but the office and research park will be the perfect complement and draw a different type of employer to River Ridge.”

The agreement with Hollenbach-Oakley takes effect on Jan. 1, according to the release, and development of the land will take place in two phases, with the office park first.

Planning and construction will start with offices for the River Ridge Authority, common areas and space for Hollenbach-Oakley. The first building will be anywhere from 30,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet, with design starting in the first quarter of 2019 and a groundbreaking in the summer.

Hollenbach said he was unsure what the first building may cost, but the development of the full 600 acres at River Ridge “could easily be in excess of $1 billion.”

The development of the office and research parks also will include green space, walking trails and other Class A amenities. Rental rates for space in the parks will be in-line with those in the East End of Louisville.

The commitment is a long-term one.

“Our business parks take anywhere from 8 to 20 years,” Hollenbach said, noting that he thinks development will be steady as long as the economy remains strong. “There is a lot of activity, there is a lot of interest. There is just so much energy in Louisville right now.”

But it’s nothing new to Hollenbach-Oakley, he said.

“It’s really in line with what we’ve done in the past,” Hollenbach said citing the more than 700 acre Eastpointe Business Park and 600-acre Blankenbaker Station.

River Ridge will continue to develop infrastructure including roads, sidewalks and gutters, while Hollenbach-Oakley will construct and maintain the buildings and handle marketing, sales and leasing efforts.

Currently, River Ridge Commerce Center houses more than more than 50 businesses, and it is expected to generate an estimated $5.8 million local income taxes in 2018.