Large potential development falls through at River Ridge, but another’s on the line

The River Ridge Development Authority is negotiating the sell of this nearly 80-acre tract. | Courtesy of RRDA

The River Ridge Development Authority is negotiating the sell of this nearly 80-acre tract. | Courtesy of RRDA

River Ridge Development Authority lost a big fish, but it may have another on the line — and it’s willing to pay more.

Back in November, IL reported that an unnamed company was talking to River Ridge Development Authority, the organization that oversees operations at the 6,000-acre River Ridge Commerce Center, about constructing a 1.5-million-square-foot facility at the Clark County business park.

To date, the largest facility built at River Ridge is the 1-million-square-foot Amazon.com distribution center.

Pending positive negotiations, the company would have paid no less than $4.79 million for nearly 80 acres at River Ridge. However, the company stopped responding to River Ridge communications, and the development authority officially voted to abandon negotiations at its meeting Monday.

“We never did enter into an actual purchase agreement, and it’s been six months, so we basically told them we need to have some movement by this board meeting,” River Ridge executive director Jerry Acy told IL after the meeting, adding that he did not know why the company stalled talks.

He declined to say who the company was or what industry it was in, stating that River Ridge is still beholden to a confidentiality agreement.

However, Acy came to the meeting with a bright side. Another company, which he also couldn’t name for confidentiality reasons, has expressed interest in the 80 acres, and they are willing to pay at least $65,000 an acre, or at least $5.19 million.

The new company would construct “potentially the same square footage but multiple buildings,” Acy said.

Per a resolution adopted Monday, the new company will have 90 days from May 16 to execute a purchase and sales agreement, or the resolution giving Acy the authority to negotiate with the company will be revoked.

“That’s going to probably be an ongoing standard,” Acy said.

That way, the board won’t have to formally revoke any negotiation resolutions should a company stop responding to communications, similar to the business originally interested in the 80 acres. It also keeps the process moving rather than dragging out negotiations.

River Ridge Development Authority board member Kim Matthews questioned whether the business park is getting top dollar for the property if the new company is willing to pay $5,000 more per acre and asked if the company would be offended if the board asked for at least $70,000 an acre, the same amount another tract is selling for.

“It’s based on the offer” the potential buyer made, Acy replied. “I don’t think it will necessarily offend, but the offer is what it is.”

Acy also noted that the price is in-line with a market analysis recently conducted.

Board member Patrick Glotzbach replied that the deal is being handled without a Realtor, but if an agent became involved and fetched the $70,000-per-acre price, the Realtors fees would pretty much negate the price difference.

At Monday’s River Ridge Development Authority meeting, the board also approved plans for Jeffersonville-based trucking company Mister “P” Express to build a driver training center at River Ridge.

The company already uses land at River Ridge for training, but this will be a more formal facility with a 10,000-square-foot building and a large tract of space for truck maneuvering practices. The tract sits next to a conservation easement, which will be left undeveloped, on the far northwest side of the business park.

Mark Robinson, chairman of the River Ridge board, informally tasked River Ridge employees with investigating the best ways for the authority to spend money advertising the available acres to businesses in the United States and globally.

Looking internationally, Malta, Serbia and the Philippines ranked among the top for countries in terms of most visitors to River Ridge’s website. Robinson raised concerns that Germany wasn’t among them despite visits to the European country by Acy and leaders with the chamber of commerce One Southern Indiana.

“I am really curious how we can invest those resources,” Robinson said. “I would hope our German colleagues would have some presence.”