Putting up speculative, or “spec,” buildings in the Kentucky Transpark is fast becoming more like a safe bet than a risk for one Bowling Green development company.
Dominion Commercial Assets, a limited liability corporation headed by Bowling Green attorney Michael Vitale, announced this week a land purchase agreement with Transpark owner Inter-Modal Transportation Authority that will lead to Dominion standing its fourth and fifth “spec” buildings on a 19-acre site in the Transpark.
Construction of what’s being called the Dominion IV building will begin this month, and it will be Dominion’s largest structure to date at 125,000 square feet.
Three previous Dominion buildings, each of 60,000 square feet, put up by Stewart Richey Construction have been bought or leased, with manufacturer Pan-Oston taking two of them for its expansion and aluminum can maker Crown Holdings leasing the third for storage as it builds a plant nearby.
That experience led Vitale and his partners to make another investment in the growing industrial park.
“The three previous buildings turned around quicker than one would’ve expected,” Vitale said. “So we’re building two bigger ones.”
Vitale said both planned “spec” buildings will be 125,000 square feet and will be built to allow for expansion.
“We’ll likely start on the fifth building as soon as we finish Dominion IV,” Vitale said. “They’re pre-engineered steel structures that can be used for warehousing or as factories.”
Dominion’s investment only serves to make the Transpark more attractive, leaders of the ITA said.
“This type of building provides companies with a facility that can be in operation quickly while still allowing for the space to be modified to fit their unique needs,” ITA Chairman Gary Dillard said in a news release.
Private development of “spec” buildings is needed now, said Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ron Bunch, because buildings put up by the Bowling Green Area Economic Development Authority have already been snatched up.
Nova Steel announced in October plans to move into an EDA-built “spec” building in the Transpark, and Material Handling Systems said in January that it is moving into the former Android Industries plant on Williamette Lane, leaving Bunch with no existing buildings to use in his marketing efforts.
“Having ‘spec’ buildings is very important,” Bunch said. “We’re thankful that Dominion is going to build more. We want private investors putting up buildings that we can then sell.”
Despite the economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, Bunch said he is seeing plenty of economic development activity.
“We’ve already sent it (the Dominion IV ‘spec’ building) to prospects,” he said.
The ITA has taken steps to ensure that the Transpark has room for more prospects. The industrial park that started in 1998 with 680 acres now encompasses more than 1,100 acres and is home to 18 companies employing about 2,700 people.
Depending on how quickly its latest two buildings find occupants, Dominion could be looking to fill up some more of that acreage in an industrial park that started with controversy over environmental concerns and other issues more than two decades ago.
“There was a lot of acrimony involved in building the Transpark,” Vitale said. “I give credit to the city and county leaders for having the foresight to get it started.
“If the ITA will continue to work with us, we’ll keep building out there. It can be a catalyst for continued growth. If it serves the community well and we make a profit, it’s all the better.”
– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.