Whiteland Approves $7.2 Million Bond to Fund Patch Mixed-Use Development
Whiteland City Council this week approved a $7.2 million bond to fund part of a massive mixed-use development in the works on Graham and Whiteland roads.
Part of this agreement also sets in motion long-awaited plans to construct a new public safety building in the city.
Westfield-based Patch Development is building a 159-acre mixed-use development that is expected to house a light industrial development, apartments, restaurant and retail spaces, as well as mid-rise flexible commercial properties.
Dubbed Gateway at Whiteland, work has already begun on the first phase of the development, which includes a 617,316 square foot light industrial building at the rear of the property.
Part of the project agreement between the city of Whiteland and Patch includes a funding method with the city’s assistance to pay for public infrastructure improvements.
Whiteland City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a bond of about $7.25 million to Patch Development to pay for infrastructure improvements, such as utilities and roads, for the first phase of construction. on nearly 160 acres of property.
Whiteland’s new three-member Economic Development Commission unanimously approved the bond. A public hearing was held before the commission on Tuesday, but no member of the public attended the meeting.
This bond, known as the Economic Development Revenue Bond, is a 25-year bond paid for with tax increment financing, or TIF, funds generated directly from Patch’s development land. These bond funds are loaned to Patch Development, so the debt is in the hands of the developer, not the city.
The city also earlier approved the slicing of the 160-acre Patch development land, formerly known as the Horseley property, into its own TIF district. This means that the tax revenue generated from the development itself would then be reinvested into repaying the $7.25 million bond – instead of taking the money out of the other four TIFs already existing in Whiteland.
The city is expected to collect more than enough from the TIF to cover the debt over the 25-year period, according to Adam Stone, a local government financial consultant who presented the bond information to council in August.
Proceeds from the bond could be used to fund the costs of utility improvements, including electrical, water, gas and sewer main improvements, road improvements, including upgrades of Graham Road, storm water improvements and “other related infrastructure improvements related to economic development”. project,” according to city documents.
Although the council vote was unanimous, some Whiteland officials made it clear that they were not 100% in favor of using an economic development bond to fund the project.
Council member David Hawkins either abstained or voted against this form of funding from the outset. He voted in favor Tuesday, however, because he said he recognized it was the will of the council and the city to move the tie forward, despite his personal feelings.
“Everyone knows I was for the project, but against the funding,” Hawkins said. “The funding and the project have been approved by the council, so I will try to start encouraging the growth of the town with this in the hope that we will prosper and beyond.”
City Manager Jim Lowhorn also spoke out against this funding method and wanted to pull the project because of it earlier this year.
Although he still disagrees with the city funding these improvements with a TIF bond, he likes the project and thinks it will be good for Whiteland.
“It’s nothing we’ve ever done before. We never asked another developer to do this,” Lowhorn said. “But since it went through the board and approved it, it’s my job to make the most of it and try to work with the developer.”
Another big reason the city was willing to enter into this agreement with Patch Development for this project is that the city plans to construct a new public safety building on the 160-acre Patch property.
The public safety building was a big sticking point that helped convince city officials to accept bond financing, said city attorney Stephen Watson.
The Public Safety Building is still a concept and is likely still a few years away, Lowhorn said. The plan is to build a space large enough for the police and fire departments – both of which need larger spaces. It would also be funded primarily with TIF money.
“It’s definitely something with Whiteland’s expansion and new growth, it’s definitely something we need,” Lowhorn said.
He sees the Gateway at Whiteland project as a whole as a transitional piece to develop the city and move it forward.
“For us to move from industrial to light industrial to apartments, to flex space, to that kind of stuff, and to retail — those are things that Whiteland really needs,” Lowhorn said.