GOSHEN — Lippert Components Inc. has canceled plans to build a $20 million facility on newly annexed land southeast of the city, Goshen City Council heard Tuesday.
Councilman Adam Scharf said he was surprised when he noticed the land was for sale at 16629 C.R. 36, which the city had annexed last year after hearing about Lippert’s plan for the property. The company intended to build a plant worth at least $20 million where 550 employees would be moved from other locations.
It would house new equipment including fully automated laser cutters, automated packagers and semi-automatic welders, which would run as much as 24 hours a day. Company representatives had said there’s no extra space at their older facilities and other potential locations wouldn’t be practical.
The 154-acre property is just east of the railroad tracks, on the north side of the road. The city rezoned the land from agricultural to industrial and annexed it in March 2018, despite opposition from nearby residents over further buildup and extra traffic.
“My eyebrows raised when I saw the for sale sign at the Lippert property,” Scharf said. “As we’re all keenly aware here, that was a pretty significant issue and lots went into that. Obviously it was somewhat fraught.”
The city also established a tax increment finance district on the property in order to reimburse the company for new infrastructure it would fund, like water and sewer lines and a sidewalk. With Lippert’s plans now canceled, Scharf noted there are financial implications involving the TIF and other smaller developments planned for the area.
“The ‘but-for test’ with that TIF is in full effect, especially in the absence of the target project with Lippert,” he said. “So that’s a significant consequence both in the short-term and then the 25-year, or whatever it was, time frame of the TIF district.”
Mayor Jeremy Stutsman said the conditions will stay with the property itself and apply to whoever might buy it.
“The obligations we created with Lippert are actually with the property, so if they sell it to another company, they still are tied into the same obligations of extending city sewer, water and utilities,” he said. “And the TIF agreement would then kick in for whoever that is, too, for the repayment.”
Stutsman said Lippert had contacted him and Community Development Director Mark Brinson last month to let the city know that they weren’t going to do the project anymore and would sell the property. He said the company hasn’t made a statement about the reasons for the change, but noted that different people are now involved in the process.
“I know they told us they’re not building this somewhere else, they’re just not building this,” he said.
Messages were left with the company seeking comment Wednesday.