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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Mitchell Officials have not prepared the deed for the Industrial Park Shell building at this time

MITCHELL - NOVEMBER 9, 2023 - The City of Mitchell attorney John Paul Isom has yet to complete the deed transfer of property the city owns in the Industrial Park to the Lawrence County Redevelopment Commission at this time.


The attorney was asked to start the process back in February and the work has yet to be completed.


During the Lawrence County RDC meeting this morning it was not clear why the city still has not performed their work.


The city attorney agreed to do the property transfer and then bill the Lawrence County Redevelopment for their part of the transfer. A Memorandum of Understanding between the city of Mitchell and the RDC.


Earlier this week Lawrence County Commissioners in a 2-1 vote agreed to a taxpayer bond issue with revenues from the sale of Dunn Hospital will be used to make interest payments until the TIF revenues or the sale of the property is completed.


Lawrence County Commissioner Dustin Gabhart says he believes the construction should wait until the Tax Incremental Funds start saving taxpayers $ 2 million.


However, Commissioners Wally Branham and Rodney Fish disagreed in the savings voting for the capital bond funding.


A Bulid Operate Transfer method of financing is being used to finance the construction of 50,000 square feet building to attract a business in locating in the Industrial Park that has seen slow growth since its inception.


A build - operate- transfer contract is a model used to finance large projects through public-private partnerships. The RDC will give to a private company once built will transfer the property over to that company, after a certain period of time. The company will operate the project for a certain space of time with the private company paying back the investment to the RDC. The Indiana Code 5-23 statue was enacted in 1997 and establishes the framework for Build - Operate and Transfer agreements. The statue helps small communities such as Mitchell and local governments to enter into P3 contracts for infrastructure and economic development projects. This a growing trend for procurement projects in the State of Indiana which allows a public entity to negotiate directly with the developer of a project. The agreement can be a long- or short-term lease anywhere from three to ten years depending on how the RDC and developers come into agreement.

Recommendations are for the Lawrence County RDC members that they should make sure any agreement puts the RDC in charge of the term and conditions of any sale or lease, and not the developer. This would give the RDC more flexibility in controlling and help determine shared profits from an agreement that RDC enters into. The Build, Operate, and Transfer model allows flexibility in funding and project costs. Some public entity may elect the traditional funding sources such as bond proceeds, or cash on hand to pay the project costs a BOT agreement may involve a alternate structure.

The Lawrence County Commissioners and County Council may have to create a resolution for the funding for this project. A cumulative capital fund may have to be created so this project can move forward. The purpose is to create economic development opportunities within the City of Mitchell. The Tax Incremental Fund District sits outside the boundaries of Mitchell, however the Lawrence County RDC wants to use the proposed shell building to spur business growth within the area. The RDC will have funds available following the completion of the Lehigh Cement Plant $600 Million Renovation of its facility. Lawrence County Redevelopment Commission will construct a shell building on 14.9 acres and will sign a contract with a builder originally planned by January 2023. The proposed project will be completed by December 31, 2024, which will be 50,000 to 100,000 square feet. The building will have a height of no less than 30 feet. Lawrence County Redevelopment has asked that in return for the construction of the building that the City of Mitchell will deed 14.9-acre parcel of land to the Lawrence County Redevelopment Commission. The ownership of the building and property will be deeded over to the Lawrence County Redevelopment Commission. Mitchell City Council members visited a similar type of shell building in Washington, Indiana. The cost of the shell building is not to exceed $8, million and will be constructed in a way for it to expand up to 100,000 square feet.


The RDC held a public hearing this morning with no one speaking for or against the measure. The RDC went on to approve the measure. Construction cannot begin until the RDC receives the deed to the property. The completion of the building is not expected until the Fall of 2024.


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