When more than 1,500 acres inside the 6,000-acre River Ridge Commerce Center recently received megasite certification, it did so under the exacting standards of the automotive industry.

River Ridge executive director Jerry Acy said using those rigorous standards means the space could potentially host an automaker. And if it meets those standards, it is acceptable land for pretty much any other business use.

A megasite is a large, contiguous tract of land that’s marketed for major manufacturing or industrial developments, and the certification ensures potential buyers that due diligence items already have been completed.

Two certified megasites in Kentucky — one in Hardin County and another in Christian County — have not attracted tenants, which suggests that the certification alone holds no guarantees.

As Business First reported earlier this week, McCallum Sweeney Consulting was hired by River Ridge two years ago to obtain the certification for the land, which required the authority to prove that utilities and transportation access is either ready or could be quickly assembled once a tenant is found.

Acy had made no secret that attracting a tenant on the level of a major automotive manufacturer is a goal, but he told Business First that the authority won’t limit itself to a single idea.

In fact, the authority has said it would consider dividing the megasite into smaller parcels for sale to multiple tenants if no progress has been made with a single user over the next few years.

But now that the certification is in place, what’s the next step?

Acy said River Ridge already has promotional materials drafted on the megasite, but will ramp up that effort, including the development of a fact sheet that can be uploaded to national site selection databases.

The megasite also will be promoted at corporate site selection events, such as those held in Indianapolis, he said.

The megasite already has water and wastewater capacity, which could be expanded if needed within a 12-month period. One requirement of the certification is prove either that utilities and transportation are in place or could easily be within a year.

Acy said River Ridge hasn’t added all of the utilities at the megasite because it prefers to customize access roads and other utilities based on a given tenant’s preferred site configuration. But he said electrical and natural gas services easily could be added within the one-year time frame if the park finds an interested user.

Duke Energy plans to place a substation within the megasite and could potentially add others as needed, he said.

Marty Finley covers economic development, commercial real estate, government, education and sports business.

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