#280. Spec Buildings Continue to Pay Off

Posted on | The Agurban

Spec Buildings Continue to Pay Off

Last week we shared with you the success story of Scottsboro, AL, and how they have been able to lure new businesses to their community because of an existing spec building. We heard back from Lyle Hevern, Mayor of Estherville, IA. Here’s what he had to say:

This Agurban article about spec buildings touches close to home.Like the city of Scottsboro mentioned in the article, Estherville believes strongly in having a spec building available.  We currently have our 5th spec building ready for a prospective job-creating business to locate in it.

We started our spec building program in the mid-1980s.  Our first spec building was sold to a trucking outfit who today employs around a 100 people.  Our spec building program became even more important to our community of 7,500 residents when our largest employer closed and laid off nearly 900 workers.

Our second spec building was sold to a wheel mfg who currently employs about 300.  After that, our 3rd spec building attracted an industry to our city who chose instead to build a new facility here and today employs about 40.  So we got the company and jobs without selling our spec building.  We then sold that spec building to a Canadian firm that produced stain glass windows used in residential front doors.  At its peak, it employed about 90 people.  The company became a victim of the housing recession and closed its doors. The 4th spec building was sold to a local company while it was still being constructed.  We have been sitting on our 5th spec building for a few years now.  It is currently being considered by a company who says the major reason to be looking at Estherville is because we have the spec building.We also bought and refurbished two existing buildings and used them as spec buildings with varying degrees of success.

We have used a variety of funding methods to pay for the spec buildings.  Our private, non-profit industrial development group, was the developer of each of the spec buildings.  The city and local REC have been key partners in the spec building program.

We also are developing a “virtual spec building” program.  It will include a completely designed manufacturing building with a 3-D color rendering of a virtual building.  We would “locate” it on one of our completely graded and ready to build upon lots in our industrial park. By having it done virtually, we can make any changes needed quickly and begin construction almost immediately.  We anticipate having two or three different “virtual spec buildings” ready to show prospects.  We are just getting started on this program.

Thanks, Mayor Hevern, for sharing your success story with spec buildings!