Westfield approves tax abatement for proposed industrial building


The Westfield City Council approved a tax abatement for an anticipated project inside NorthPoint Business Park.

Farnam NP I LLC and Williams Enterprises LLC applied for abatement of the proposed project to be constructed at 20221 Grassy Branch Rd.

“This is a 10-year, real property abatement for a spec building, it’s a shell,” Jenell Fairman, Westfield’s director of economic development, told the members of the Westfield City Council June 24. Fairman said the project site totals 12.9 acres, with the building expected to be 159,000 square feet.

The value of the abatement over 10 years is $1.1 million. The estimated project cost is $14.9 million. The abatement schedule is 100 percent for year one, then reduces by 10 percent each year for 10 years.

farnam williams site plan map
The proposed building will be constructed at 20221 Grassy Branch Rd. inside NorthPoint Business Park. (Image courtesy of City of Westfield)

Councilor Jon Dartt questioned the term of the abatement schedule for a development without a tenant.

“I’m a supporter of tax abatements. I think it’s a great tool for this city to be able to use to attract businesses, but I’m still scratching my head on an abatement for a shell building,” Dartt said. “We said we would consider abatements for businesses coming into Westfield if it was light manufacturing, if it was in the health and medical device or maybe high tech (fields). Those were the type of businesses that we want to attract to Westfield. I think we still do. At this point, we have no idea who would be coming into this building.”

Dartt said he prefers short-term abatements, with reevaluations when a developer leases or sells the building and the city knows who the tenant is.

Fairman said discussions with area municipalities indicate that a 10-year graduated abatement is the industry standard.

“For us to be able to attract development here in Westfield, I think we’re going to have to do (10-year abatements) on shell buildings,” Fairman said. “I’m not saying that this is ideal; I’m just saying that this seems to be the standard that is in place around central Indiana. If we want to be competitive and we want to encourage development here from a commercial perspective, we’re going to have to meet what’s happening within the market.”

Dartt said he believes the city is underestimating its potential value to developers within Hamilton County.

“I’m not sure how many 12-acre parcels are available in Noblesville or other cities, but I know that they don’t have the safety record that we have,” Dartt said. “I know that they don’t have the schools that we have. I know that they don’t have the residential communities that we have. And I think we’re underestimating the draw of businesses to Westfield.”

Mayor Scott Willis said the abatement structure is designed to put the city in the best position to draw in development.

“Ninety percent of our tax revenue comes from the residential side,” Willis said. “It is absolutely imperative that we are competitive and that we’re snagging these businesses as quickly as we can, the right kinds of businesses for Westfield.”

Willis noted that the planned unit development outlines what kind of businesses are permitted in NorthPoint, which narrows the scope of what can be housed in the business park.

The council approved a resolution awarding the abatement by a 6-1 vote, with Dartt the lone no vote.

The plan is expected to be introduced in August for rezoning as part of a rezoning of NorthPoint architectural standards. The site is currently zoned as industrial as part of the NorthPoint PUD.