The end of summer could bring one or more new tenants to the 4,000-acre New Albany International Business Park.
That could be good news for the city.
More than 80 percent of general-fund revenue for city services comes from income taxes, most of which are derived from businesses and their employees in the business park, according to city spokesman Scott McAfee.
Michael Armm, development director for PowerGrid Real Estate LLC, said the real-estate company is in negotiations with multiple businesses interested in a portion of the business park. He said he hopes that by mid-August, PowerGrid would have an end user or users identified.
PowerGrid, based in Washington, D.C., focuses on "mission-critical" real estate, Armm said. The company is marketing about 165 acres in the park, with 100 acres in Licking County and 65 acres in Franklin County, he said.
PowerGrid is scheduled to close on one parcel in mid-September and the other in mid-October, Armm said. The Albert A. Strouss Trust owns one parcel, and two trustees, Cynthia L. Bowlin and Carol A. Ritchie, are listed as owners of the second.
Some groups are interested in the entire area, and others want portions of the land, Armm said. Most of the businesses are looking to build data centers.
New Albany City Council on July 3 approved a rezoning request for the land, which is south of Jug Street, east of Evans Road, north of Smith's Mill Road and west of Beech Road. All members present voted in favor of the rezoning; Chip Fellows and Matt Shull were absent.
Both the Franklin and Licking county portions are within the New Albany-Plain Local School District's boundaries, according to McAfee.
Armm said he was familiar with New Albany because a few years ago when he was working for Facebook, he helped select the site the social-media company later would choose for a data center. Facebook in August announced plans to build a 970,000-square-foot facility on 345 acres in the business park, on the east side of Beech Road and south of the state Route 161 interchange. The complex's first facility should be complete by 2019, with the second building finishing up in 2020.
"It's a beautifully done, planned community," Armm said of New Albany.
Central Ohio, including the western, northern and eastern portions, is becoming attractive to data centers, he said.
In addition to favorable taxation incentives in both Ohio and New Albany, the city has adequate land and infrastructure to support data centers, Armm said. New Albany has excellent fiber-optics connectivity, and American Electric Power has access to renewable power, a boon because power is critical to data centers, he said.
A number of wind farms are in northern Ohio and a few small solar farms are scattered across the state, said Scott Blake, a principal communications consultant with AEP.
Even though AEP doesn't own those renewable power sources, the power itself is accessible through the electric grid, he said.
A company can purchase renewable energy directly from a business that produces it to offset electricity generated from other resources, Blake said.
AEP also is pursuing the development of solar and wind resources that the company would own in partnership with other companies, he said.
As PowerGrid looks for tenants to help fill out the business campus, city leaders are making preparations for the campus' growth.
City Council on July 3 approved two preliminary annexation agreements with Jersey Township.
The first was for 151 acres east of the Franklin County line, west of Beech Road, north of Morse Road and south of Dublin-Granville Road. The second was for 485 acres east of Beech Road, west of Clover Valley Road, north of Jug Street and south of Miller Road.
City leaders proactively wanted to establish an annexation agreement with the township when and if an annexation request is made, said Jennifer Chrysler, New Albany's community-development director. The city has a similar agreement with Plain Township, she said.
The Jersey Township trustees on July 2 approved the 151-acre agreement, said trustee Ed Bright.
The trustees haven't voted on the 485-acre agreement, he said, and they will have the township's prosecuting attorney review it prior to a vote. The trustees likely will discuss the agreement Aug. 6, he said.
New Albany has not identified users for the land, McAfee said.
"The types of companies we could envision in this area would be consistent with the companies that are already located in the area," McAfee said.
Those include light manufacturing and mission-critical facilities.
If the city were to enact a TIF on the land, it would reimburse Jersey Township for any fire-suppression and emergency-medical-service funding that would be diverted, McAfee said.