America Place LLC, a Jeffersonville-based development company, has closed on 11 more acres at River Ridge Commerce Center in Jeffersonville, but the sale is being questioned by another development group that offered more money for the land.

America Place at River Ridge LLC finalized the purchase of 11.19 acres from the River Ridge Development Authority at $100,000 per acre Wednesday. River Ridge executive director Jerry Acy confirmed the closing Wednesday morning. The property is located off Ind. 62 near the Inc. fulfillment center.

According to the purchase and sale agreement, which was obtained by Louisville Business First, the property will be used to construct a mixed-use development with a conference center and Class A office space. As part of the agreement with the River Ridge authority, America Place also will construct landscaping and water features for the site alongside other amenities, such as walking trails and public seating areas.

Under the terms of the agreement, River Ridge officials have agreed to credit a total of $419,625 back to America Place, which was taken off the overall purchase price at closing. That credit was for the right to use meeting space inside the conference center and for the improvements America Place is making.

Acy said the authority will schedule the use of meeting space as needed when it’s available for use.

America Place officials were not immediately available for comment about the size and scope of the conference center and other proposed development on the site, and the timeline for construction was not immediately available.

As Business First has previously reported, America Place is one of River Ridge’s most active developers and now owns a little more than 150 acres.

Specifically, the company has committed to spending $100 million or more to build 1.5 million square feet of warehouse space, primarily for logistics and manufacturing companies.

America Place has completed two buildings and has started working on its third, a nearly 200,000-square-foot structure along Salem Road that should be finished this year.

Illinois-based automotive supplier Tenneco Inc. anchors the first building. America Place is negotiating with prospective tenants for the second building.

Other development group offered more for land

During a special meeting of the River Ridge Development Authority Tuesday evening, John A. Kraft, an attorney with New Albany-based firm Young, Lind, Endres & Kraft, challenged the authority’s sale agreement with America Place. He asked why his clients, business partners Ryan Pennington, David G. Richardand Max Zimmerman, were not given a chance to negotiate for the property, even though they offered $120,000 per acre. The partners submitted a letter of intent to make an offer for the land in early 2015.

The three men previously developed a retail plaza at River Ridge on a two-acre site along Ind. 62 that is home to a Subway restaurant and New Washington State Bank.

Pennington wrote the authority on Aug. 14, expressing his frustration that their higher offer was not considered and saying that they had made multiple attempts to meet directly with the board of directors during its executive sessions, which are closed to the public.

Pennington noted in the letter that the partners were looking to bring more retail options to Southern Indiana by buying the land and said that their development, coupled with the previous development at River Ridge, would provide multiple amenities, including health care services, a convenience store and gas station, a bank, dining options and a pharmacy.

Kraft told River Ridge officials Tuesday evening that he was seeking answers on his clients’ behalf, but he didn’t find many.

Acy said the authority has been negotiating the sale of the land with America Place since 2011 or 2012 and said the authority has the latitude under Indiana’s legal code to make business decisions its members feel are in the best interest of the property and inhabitants of the business park.

Mark Robinson, president of the River Ridge board, said he hoped the board’s decision does not dissuade the business partners from future investments at River Ridge.

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

Read Original Story