Plans for a new Amazon Delivery Center in South Bend aren’t the first major growth in the region’s logistics sector, and won’t be the last according to local developers and industry experts.
The focus of that growth has come in areas immediately adjacent to the intersection of the Indiana Toll Road and U.S. 31, a confluence of traffic arteries that connect directly to larger metro areas including Chicago, Detroit and Indianapolis, as companies focus on the logistics of getting products to customers quickly and efficiently, particularly in the internet era.
The revelation Wednesday that Amazon may locate a distribution facility here could come with new services for consumers in the area, but it also represents a continuing boom in logistics growth locally. Much of that growth has been spurred by developers Holladay Properties and Great Lakes Capital at the business park called AmeriPlex at Interstate 80/90.
In an interview Thursday, Great Lakes Capital managing partner Ryan Rans declined comment on documents suggesting Amazon will locate a delivery facility at one of GLC’s recently built distribution centers.
But Rans did speak more broadly about the firm’s focus on expanding development near the hub of transportation activity on the city’s northwest side, outlining a new distribution center that is expected to break ground by spring.
“We’re going to break ground in the next month or two on a 165,000-square-foot spec (speculative) building there,” Rans said. “There remains demand for space that’s immediately available for tenants.”
And in the field just south of the Indiana-Michigan state line where that new building will rise, Rans said, Great Lakes Capital has plans to eventually build “between 1 and 1.5 million more square feet there.”
For Rans and Great Lakes Capital, providing space for the attraction of new businesses, or expansion of existing ones, helps boost business in the company’s portfolio of retail, residential and office properties.
“People are looking for a realistic solution more than anything else,” Rans said. “Our intention is to continue to build ahead of having a tenant in hand, so the South Bend market can capture all the opportunities.”
Meanwhile, there are ongoing studies looking at the possibility of adding air and rail freight hubs at the South Bend International Airport, just south of the AmeriPlex hub.
The boom itself is part of a state- and region-wide trend to rekindle the moniker for Indiana as “Crossroads of America.”
“Every town that has an interstate that runs through it thinks they’re perfect for logistics,” said Jeff Rea, president of the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce. “But for us, it’s partly the markets we serve. If you think about moving product, I think the federal limitation is a 10-hour drive, and when you start drawing a 10-hour circle from South Bend you hit Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Louisville, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus.”