Sale of Berea industrial property paves way for more jobs

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The Berea Industrial Development Authority (BIDA) closed a land deal Monday designed to bring a new employer and more jobs to the city.

After the sale, Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley, who is also president of the Berea Industrial Authority, announced the sale of the 10.8-acre parcel not far from Farristown Middle School.

"This parcel is on the north side (left) of Farristown Industrial Road, just past the entrance for the track," Fraley said. "It is a great site, and is essentially flat, which will minimize earth work related to site preparation."

BIDA sold the land in Menelaus Industrial Park to Menelaus Berea Spec, LLC, an affiliate of MP Kelly Design and Construction in Richmond, Kentucky, according to a press release from the mayor's office.

Fraley noted the project is important because it will serve the needs of prospective employers, thus potentially attracting more new jobs to add to the recent expansions in local industries.

"Menelaus Berea Spec, LLC plans to construct an approximately 50,000-square-foot "spec" building on this site beginning in 2022, which will help the BIDA and City of Berea continue to attract quality employers to our city," Fraley said. "With the recent expansion of Hyster-Yale Group, and new large employers choosing Berea, including AppHarvest and Hitachi-Astemo Electric Motor Systems America, we expect to see an increasing demand for existing buildings in and around the Berea Industrial Park and Menelaus Industrial Park."

Fraley noted the demand for industrial-ready buildings in central Kentucky has surged as of late, leaving very little inventory for clients to choose from. Recent reports show less than 3% vacancy of existing buildings currently on the market for sale or for lease.

"This investment from Menelaus Spec, LLC will meet that growing demand and fill a much-needed void for new product," Fraley said.

Berea Business and Tourism Development Director Donna Angel said, with the shortage of available buildings in central Kentucky, the building in the Menelaus Industrial Park will fill a critical need which will make Berea more competitive. The advantage of a spec building, according to Angel, is manufacturers or commercial clients won't have to buy land and construct a building themselves. They can simply lease the facility.

"I think in today's times, people are more eager than ever before to move forward with new businesses. Having a space like this that is available for lease is a great new option," Angel said. "For us to have commercial/industrial space available truly will help us to recruit bigger and faster."

Berea City Councilman Jim Davis, who chairs the council's Economic Development Committee, praised the recent development because it gives employers another reason to explore Berea as a potential worksite.

"This is just another tool in the box to help us draw industry by having a building ready, and this is a way to help us stay a little ahead of the game," Davis said of Monday's announcement.

Officials said construction on the facility may begin as early as the spring, while Fraley noted BIDA's latest move is a positive sign that employment opportunities are continuing to grow in the city.

"This is a great day for the city of Berea and our citizens as our local economy continues to grow and get stronger," Fraley said.

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