New Class A Office Space at Landings Park

An out-of-town developer is planning the first speculative office building in Blue Ash since the recession.

VanTrust Real Estate LLC, a Kansas City-based real estate development company, purchased 8.75 acres from Duke Realty Corp. for about $1.7 million. The developer plans to break ground in the next 30 days on a 143,000-square-foot, class A office building with no signed tenants.

Andy Weeks, vice president and general manager in the Columbus office of VanTrust, said the location, the low vacancy rate in Blue Ash and the city’s pro-business economic development practices make this the right spot for putting up a new building, even without a single tenant in tow.

“This is a great opportunity to buy a great site in a very strong submarket,” Weeks told me. “We’re going to break ground as soon as possible.”

Located at 9999 Carver Road, the new building will complete the Landings development Duke Realty started in 2006. VanTrust will call its building Landings Park, and it will be a more than $20 million project.

Thursday night, Blue Ash City Council approved a $1 million forgivable loan for the VanTrust project. As long as VanTrust completes the building, the loan will be forgiven.

Neil Hensley, economic development director for the city of Blue Ash, said the VanTrust project will provide much-needed office space. The vacancy rate for class A office space in Blue Ash is about 5.4 percent, with few large blocks of space.

Just a few weeks ago, Blue Ash-based iSqFt decided to move its headquarters to Norwood’s Rookwood Exchange office building, where the company will lease about 60,000 square feet of space.

“We don’t have anything close to that available in Blue Ash,” Hensley told me.

Blue Ash is home to fast-growing companies that will need more space. When the Inc. 5000 list for this year was announced, 47 companies were located in the Greater Cincinnati region. Of those, 12 were based in Blue Ash.

“We want to make sure we have something available so they can grow here,” Hensley said.

Hensley expects Landings Park to house 500 to 700 jobs generating $400,000 to $500,000 in new earnings tax per year.

Blue Ash Mayor Lee Czerwonka said the city believes the building will be occupied shortly after completion.

“We have seen a large amount of interest from the business community for a building styled and built to their long-term economic interests, which would also fit within the city’s recently updated land use plan,” Czerwonka said in a news release.

VanTrust is working with PDT Architects as the architect for the project. The building will look similar to Landings I and II, but it will have higher ceilings, more glass and be four stories instead of five.

The construction contract for Landings Park is out to bid. Weeks expects to select a general contractor in the “very near future.”

VanTrust hired John SchenkChris Vollmer and Chris Vollmer Jr. with Colliers International to market the building. Lease rates have not been determined yet, Weeks said.

The last speculative office building developed in Blue Ash was the neighboring Landings II building in 2007.

For Duke Realty, the sale of the office site is another step in company’s plan to focus on industrial real estate. Earlier this week, I wrote about Duke Realty selling nearly 18 acres in West Chester to Kubicki Real Estate Partners, which plans to build about 300,000 square feet of office space across three buildings.

In addition to being the first speculative office building developed in Blue Ash since the recession, it also is VanTrust’s first office building in the region. Last year, VanTrustbuilt a speculative industrial building in Hebron, which UPS quickly leased after completion, and VanTrust then sold to a real estate investment company for $15 million.

Landings Park is expected to be complete by the end of the third quarter of 2016.