Application is third in two months to build spec warehouses

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — New shell buildings totaling 105,000 square feet were proposed at 5200 Illinois Road, adding to a growing number of empty, barn-like light industrial buildings built to attract county and outside business.

Rakesh Khatri, the same businessman/doctor who has proposed building apartments on South Bend Drive across from the Canterbury School, now has an application in front of the Fort Wayne Planning Commission for three 35,000 square foot buildings on 19.1 acres. He is asking to rezone the property, tucked behind commercial development on Illinois Road, from commercial to light industrial.

A proposal to build three 35,000 square foot warehouses behind DeHaven Chevrolet on Illinois Road was submitted this week.

The next plan commission public hearing is scheduled for May 8.

MLS Engineering of Fort Wayne is listed as the contact for the proposed development. WANE 15 was waiting for a response at the time of publication.

The trend for empty shell, ready-to-occupy buildings has been encouraged by the area and is considered a sign of healthy economic growth, according to the Allen County Redevelopment Commission. This particular development lies within city limits.

In January, Silverado Hagerman LLC received financing agreements with the county to build two 150,000 square foot shell buildings off Lafayette Center Road on Hitzfield Court, south of General Motors. Originally proposed as a 750,000 square foot building in September 2021, the project was divided in to two buildings that could be expanded to 225,000 square feet.

The $13 million project was constructed by Hagerman Group, a prominent construction development company in the area. The Allen County Commissioners agreed to provide reimbursement on the interest portion of carrying costs on the shell buildings for up to two years.

In February, Auburn-based businessman Maher Al Alawi of Razz Logistics and Wholesale LLC applied to build a 38,000 square foot warehouse on Hatfield Road, a service road running parallel to U.S. 30. The proposal was to rezone the property from commercial and residential to limited industrial.

This month, Kurt Schlabach of KDS Investment Properties submitted plans for a 20,000 square foot industrial spec building next door to his business, Retirement Home RV Corporation in the 4600 block of Arden Drive. The proposal is to build a warehouse on about 1.7 acres of the 3.2 acre lot. Cost is estimated at about $3 million.

The proposed 20,000 square feet is the ‘sweet spot,” Schlabach said. “Everything is much smaller or a lot bigger.”