Whiteland’s first mixed-use development is now underway, with construction of the first building due to begin in 30 days.
Westfield-based Patch Development is building an almost 159-acre mixed-use development on the southwest corner of Whiteland and Graham roads. The property, now called Gateway @ Whiteland, will include apartments, several smaller buildings for restaurant and retail space, mid-rise buildings for flexible commercial space and a large light industrial building.
The Whiteland Planning Commission on Tuesday approved the first construction platform for the first building, which will be a 617,316 square foot industrial building located at the southeast rear of the property. There are 12 total lots planned for the property, including a 300-unit apartment complex.
Construction is expected to begin next month. The industrial building will be speculative, with a tenant to come later. Patch Development is already in talks with potentially interested companies, said Patch Development’s Andrew Greenwood.
Ideally, they’re looking for a tenant in the advanced manufacturing industry and are particularly mindful of which company they’ll be renting the space from, Greenwood said.
Patch Development also plans to apply for a property tax abatement from the city and is in the process of preparing it. Municipalities offering tax breaks are now common practice in order to attract business development, Greenwood said.
“That discount is passed directly to the renter…so if we don’t have that and can’t offer it, we can’t attract any business because if you go to Plainfield or Greenwood or Franklin they’re all offering discounts said Greenwood.
Prior to the planning commission meeting, a few neighboring residents who live next to the planned development came to the town hall for an information meeting with the developers.
Many locals said they weren’t a fan of the massive project taking place outside their homes, but they embraced it anyway.
Angela Graves, who lives on Graham Road opposite the south end of the site, was unsure what to make of the project but she is trying to stay positive, she said.
She moved to Whiteland 11 years ago when it was just farm fields, she said.
“I love this town, it just has that old country town feeling, but it loses that really fast,” Graves said.
She had concerns, as did others present, about the possible widening of Whiteland or Graham roads for the project. She didn’t want the city to use eminent domain to enter her property to widen the road, but she was sure that wouldn’t happen.
There are currently no plans to widen Graham and Whiteland Roads on site. However, left turn lanes will be added on both roads to avoid traffic jams, Greenwood said.
Graves also felt better knowing that 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 neighboring properties. Trees will be planted throughout the development and outside along the roads, with drainage basins and earth mounds to protect the development from existing neighbours.
Drainage was another issue raised by local residents. Flooding to the north is expected to be mitigated through the development’s drainage plan as water will drain to ponds on the property.
There were also concerns about building construction and noise when businesses inside are operating. Greenwood said all work being done on the property will comply with the city’s 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 the meeting to inquire and ask questions.
Jaquelyn Hutt also said she felt their property had been “compressed” by development over the years.
The total time expected to build the entire Gateway property is about five to seven years, Greenwood said.
The apartment complex along the northern end of the property on Whiteland Road would have all 300 market-priced units arranged around a pond. A public park, called Horsely Park, is also planned near the complex.
Some of the smaller commercial lots will be reserved for retail and restaurant space, which will be along Whiteland Road. Other buildings will be designated for flexible commercial spaces that can be customized for many different uses, including offices or warehouses.
The planned unit development details which businesses are expected and not permitted to enter the site. Truck stops, gas factories or harmful industrial buildings, for example, will not be allowed there. Commercial blocks allow for a range of businesses from law firms, entrepreneurs and research centers to breweries, grocery stores and bed and breakfasts.