Whiteland’s first mixed-use development is now underway, with construction on the first building set to start in 30 days.
Westfield-based Patch Development is building a nearly 159-acre mixed-use development to the southwest corner of Whiteland and Graham roads. The property, now dubbed Gateway @ Whiteland, will include apartments, several small buildings for restaurant and retail spaces, medium-size buildings for commercial flex spaces and a large light industrial building.
The Whiteland Plan Commission on Tuesday approved the primary plat for construction to start on the first building, which will be a 617,316-square-foot industrial building on the back southeastern corner of the property. There are 12 lots total planned for the property, including a 300-unit apartment complex.
Construction is expected to start next month. The industrial building will be speculative, with a tenant to come later. Patch Development is already in talks with potential interested companies, said Andrew Greenwood, of Patch Development.
Ideally, they are looking for a tenant in the advanced manufacturing industry, and are being particular about what company they will lease the space to, Greenwood said.
Patch Development also plans to seek a property tax abatement from the town, and are in the process of getting that ready. Municipalities offering tax breaks is a common practice now in order to attract business development, Greenwood said.
“That abatement is passed directly on to the tenant … so if we don’t have that, and can’t offer that, then we can’t attract any business because if you go to Plainfield or Greenwood or Franklin, they’re all offering abatements,” Greenwood said.
Prior the the plan commission meeting, a few nearby residents who live next to the planned development came to the town hall for an informational meeting with the developers.
Many residents there said they were not fans of the massive project going in front of their homes, but are accepting it anyway.
Angela Graves, who lives on Graham Road across from the south end of the site, didn’t know how to feel about the project, but she is trying to stay positive, she said.
She moved to Whiteland 11 years ago, when it was mostly just farm fields, she said.
“I love this town, it just has that old country town feeling, but it’s losing that really fast,” Graves said.
She had some concerns, as others in attendance did as well, about possibly widening either Whiteland or Graham roads for the project. She did not want to the town to use eminent domain to come into her property to widen the road, but she was assured that would not happen.
There are no current plans to widen Graham nor Whiteland Roads at the site. However, left turn lanes will be added on both roads to avoid traffic back ups, Greenwood said.
Graves also felt better knowing none of the entrances to the property are in front of her house. There will be at least 25 feet of buffer zone between the development and nearby properties. Trees will be planted throughout the development and on the outside along the roads, with drainage ponds and dirt mounds to shield the development from existing neighbors.
Drainage was another issue brought up among the nearby residents. Flooding to the north is expected to be alleviated with the drainage plan for the development, as water will flow toward the ponds on the property.
There were also concerns about construction and noise from the buildings when the businesses inside are operating. Greenwood said all work going on at the property will comply with the town noise ordinance between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m..
Jaquelyn and Charles Hutt have lived in their home along Graham Road since 2003, they said. They do not support the project, but attended to the meeting to get information and ask questions.
Jaquelyn Hutt also said she felt like their property has been “squeezed” by development over the years.
The expected total time for the entire Gateway property to be built out is about five to seven years, Greenwood said.
The apartment complex along the north end of the property on Whiteland Road would have the 300 market-rate-priced units arranged around a pond. A public park, dubbed Horsely Park, is also planned near the complex.
Some of the commercial small lots will be reserved for retail and restaurant spaces, which would be along Whiteland Road. Other buildings will be designated for commercial flex spaces that can be customized for many different uses, including office or warehouse space.
The Planned Unit Development outlines in detail what businesses are expected and not allowed to go into the site. Truck stops, gas manufactures or noxious industrial buildings, for example, will not be allowed there. The commercials blocks do allow a range of businesses from law offices, contractors and research centers to breweries, grocers and bed and breakfasts.