At the Westfield City Council meeting June 10, city planning staff member Amanda Rubadue presented an item from the agenda requesting the establishment of an economic revitalization area, the first step in approving real property tax abatements.
The request was for Browning Chapman, which is looking to build a $4 million office and warehouse space, approximately 67,000 square feet, at 2101 Bastian Ct., within the Northpoint development at U.S. 31 and 191st Street.
During her presentation, Rubadue said the company was looking for a seven-year property tax abatement. However, when Larry Siegler, president of the Peterson Company, gave a presentation on the proposal, he said Browning Chapman was actually seeking a 10-year tax abatement for the development.
“We are actually asking for a 10-year abatement. The mayor’s office was talking five or seven, and we had a good conversation with them, but respectfully, we are here to ask for 10. Let me talk about why we think that’s a reasonable request,” Siegler said. “My company, we do a lot of construction around the city and central Indiana, just my company alone built eight buildings in Whitestown and all had 10-year tax abatements … The last couple of months, even Zionsville approved two buildings for a 10-year tax abatement and that’s kind of a big stretch for them.”
Siegler said in the development world, competition is real and tax abatements help attract companies to a certain area.
Siegler also referenced the Toyota Bastian development near the proposed Browning Chapman development.
“Toyota Bastian, they got a 10-year abatement, and they’re right next door,” Siegler said. “Bastian had 50 employees, about $2.3 million in wages. Browning Chapman has 90 employees with over $6 million in wages. I would argue, and that’s why we think our request is reasonable, if you’re going to give a 10-year tax abatement for 50 (employees) and $2.3 million in wages, and you (may) have 90 employees coming to Westfield, that’s a solid project you’re going to want to have.”
Some of the city council members expressed concerns about the request.
“I have a little concern. I’m sitting here with numbers indicative of a seven-year tax abatement, and you’re requesting a 10-year tax abatement, and I don’t have the numbers to justify that,” council president Mark Keen said. “I’m not a big fan of tax abatements as the former superintendent (of Westfield Washington Schools). I’m a little hesitant to go along without administration crunching the numbers and giving support moving forward with the 10-year abatement.”
Other council members expressed similar concerns. However, since approving the establishment of the economic revitalization area did not guarantee the approval of the 10-year tax abatement, the council members approved the agenda item 6-0.
Keen asked the petitioners if, when the company first moved to Fishers, they received a tax abatement there. The petitioners said they did not. Keen also reminded the petitioners that the council has the opportunity to rescind tax abatements on an annual basis, and that the council rescinded one recently.