Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation president Terry Denison says it’s too soon to talk about major manufacturers coming to town, but many developers and commercial real estate companies are taking an interest.
“I think that they're kind of seeing that the manufacturing economy is making a comeback," says Denison. "So, they have decided to list some of these buildings with a national or, in some cases, an international realty company. We're already seeing some interest because of having that exposure."
Denison says the Universal Music Group listed the EMI building at 1 Capital Way with international realtor C. B. Richard Ellis Group in December. He says the asking price for the building is $2.2 million.
“They’ve already brought a couple of developers out of the St. Louis area," says Denison. "I was involved in showing them the building, talking about the Jacksonville region and what we have to offer to them, and incentives that might be available to them. At a little over $7 per square foot for 288,000 square feet - that is a bargain."
The owners of the AC Humko building at 1201 East Morton listed that property with Cassidy Turley Real Estate Services last month.
“This is just the first step because if the developers buy the building that doesn't mean there will be jobs available right away, but those developers then know companies that are either looking to either buy or lease," says Denison.
Denison points out manufacturing companies don’t hire as many employees today as they did twenty years ago thanks to robotics and automation.
“I would be hesitant to say these will create lots of hundreds of jobs but we could be looking at 20 jobs or 50 jobs," says Denison. "Somewhere in that area is what I think the trend is looking at. Companies are smaller and more efficient, and they're making use of automation."
Area developers recently purchased three other vacant buildings.
Ryan Turner and Matt Summers bought the 35,000-square-foot Midland Farm and Home building at 803 South Diamond in December. Turner says it’s at an ideal location.
“What we would like to do is develop the front 8,000 square feet for retail spaces," says Turner. "Then that would leave us with another 25,000 to 27,000 square feet where we would like to see a commercial sales company that could make good use of the loading dock. It could be a distribution center for companies. That still leaves us with a fair amount that we could use as an event center."
He says the first event will be the first-ever Diamond Plaza Flea Market held there from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Turner says he expects about 65 vendors to show up.
Denison says Quincy developers hope to lease out the Apria building at 1132 Veterans Drive and Quincy-based TDR Enterprises plan to do the same at the Lundia building at 600 Capital Way.