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Dolwick Drive in Erlanger is booming commercial development, maybe site for new specialty hospital

By Greg Paeth
NKyTribune Reporter

When Northern Kentuckians think about booming commercial development and multi-million-dollar business investments in offices and manufacturing facilities, the spectacular growth in Boone County over the last 30-plus years usually comes to mind.

But Kenton County isn’t doing badly, either, especially in Erlanger, where four companies have invested nearly $12 million in new buildings along Dolwick Drive and the new owners of WILD Flavors are spending $5.5 million on a huge renovation of their existing building that is tied to the addition of some 200 new high-tech jobs.

Kanefusa USA

Kanefusa USA

St. Elizabeth Healthcare and two partners also are considering a tract of about 15 acres on Dolwick as the site for a 197-bed specialty hospital although hospital officials stress that no decision has been made on the location for the new facility.

The project, estimated to cost $40 million, is contingent on a critical approval from the state on what is called a “certificate of need,” Guy Karrick, a spokesman for St. Elizabeth, said earlier this week.

Last month the hospital and two firms that are working with it on the project, SUN Behavioral Health and NorthKey Community Care, ruled out a site on Farrell Drive in Covington because there were problems with access to the site from Kyles Lane. Covington Mayor Sherry Carran also said that the hilly site would have made the project far more complicated than building on a flat tract.

The new buildings as well as the property that might be acquired for the new hospital all have high visibility on the west side of I-71/75 south of Buttermilk Pike and just north of the intersection with I-275.

The site that is being considered for the hospital is between the area where new construction is underway near Crescent Springs Road and the I-275 interchange.

The property is owned by Covington-based Corporex, according to David Hahn, Erlanger’s director of development.

Hahn had a theory about why the companies have made recent investments along Dolwick.

Signature Hardware

Signature Hardware

“I think the owners of the property have gotten more aggressive in wanting to sell and the economy is starting to turn around,” Hahn said. “We’re starting to get more calls about the property, and a lot of companies and businesses want to spend some money now.

“And the property is very visible. A lot of cars go by there every day.”

At a time when many companies seek incentive packages from cities, counties and states to induce them to bring new jobs, for example, to a given location, the companies that built on Dolwick asked for nothing, Hahn said.

The recent wave of new construction on Dolwick began a little more than three years ago, when Kanefusa USA announced plans to build a plant as well as the U.S. headquarters for the company, which is based in Japan. At the time of the move, the company said that it had outgrown another nearby building on Pacific Avenue in unincorporated Boone County.

The company supplies, services and sells industrial knives, saw blades and other cutting tools through the U.S. division for a company that is one of Japan’s leaders in the industrial tool industry.

The City of Erlanger issued a certificate of occupancy, the final inspection for the project, in June of 2012, Hahn said.

McD Concrete

McD Concrete

The biggest structure in the new-building cluster is the 92,480-square-foot warehouse and distribution facility for Signature Hardware, a company that was founded in 1999 by Mike Butler, who had worked in the plumbing business his father Robert had established in Covington in the 1930s. One of his brothers is Bill Butler, the prominent Northern Kentucky developer who created Corporex, whose projects include the office, hotel and condominium towers that overlook the Ohio River in Covington.

Mike Butler’s original Signature Hardware building in Erlanger is located on Crescent Springs Road. Hahn said that building had been a distribution center for Budweiser Beer before Butler acquired it.

The new warehouse, which cost about $3.65 million, is adjacent to the company’s other building. The Signature Hardware website says the company sells more than 60,000 items for bathrooms, kitchens, homes and yards.

The new building for McD Concrete Enterprises, which cost $736,000, is nearby and includes offices and storage for supplies, tools and other equipment, Hahn said.

The company, which had been headquartered in Alexandria, was founded in 1980 by Dan and Mike McDaniel. State Senator Chris McDaniel of Taylor Mill, whose 23rd District includes part of Kenton County, is the company’s president. He said McD, which was first headquartered in Taylor Mill, has moved all of its operations to the location on Dolwick and no longer has a location in Alexandria.

The senator’s father is Dan McDaniel.

The one building in the four-building cluster that hasn’t been completed is the most expensive, Griffin Elite Sports and Wellness, which has plans to spend about $6 million on a huge training and fitness center, Hahn said.

No one from the company could be reached for comment, but the Griffin Elite website says the 52,000-square-foot building should open to the public in the spring or summer of this year.

Griffin Elite

Griffin Elite

The building will include three basketball and volleyball courts, spa and wellness facilities, individual and team training, athletic performance training, special needs activities and nutritional counseling.

Hahn said one of the principals in the project is Robert Griffin, who is the former president of Griffin Industries, a Cold Spring company that was purchased in late 2010 by Darling International of Irving, TX, for $840 million.

WILD Flavors, which has been renamed WILD Flavors and Specialty Ingredients, has told the City of Erlanger that it intends to spend $5.5 million renovating about one fourth of the 200,000-square-foot building it owns on Pacific Avenue, which is near the portion of Dolwick that runs along I-275.

Some of the work is being done in preparation for the arrival of some 200 workers who will be handling information technology and service center tasks for the company, which was acquired last year by agri-business giant Archer Daniels Midland, which is based in Decatur, IL.

Last December, shortly after the $3 billion deal closed, Archer Daniels said it would establish its new tech center in Erlanger, where the company already had about 430 employees.

“We are excited to expand our presence and create jobs in Erlanger by establishing our new technology center there,” said Marty Schoenthaler, ADM’s chief information officer. “ADM is growing, and this new center will help ensure that our IT support and infrastructure are able to support that growth.

Wild Flavors' Pacific Avenue building to be expanded

Wild Flavors’ Pacific Avenue building to be expanded

“We considered other locations, but in the end, co-locating this facility with our WILD Flavors offices in Erlanger offered us a wealth of advantages,” Marty Schoenthaler, the company’s chief information officer, said at the time. “One of the ways in which ADM is making ongoing progress in enhancing returns is through careful consideration of costs throughout the business. In this case, we are controlling costs by using available space in a building we already own, and also by benefitting from tax incentives offered by the commonwealth. We will also be able to recruit from a strong local talent pool in northern Kentucky, and we will have quick and easy access to a major airport…”

ADM also pointed out that the decision to establish the tech center in Erlanger was influenced, in part, by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority decision to approve tax incentives of up to $5 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. In order to qualify for the incentives, ADM said it had committed to recruit heavily in Kentucky for newly created positions at the center. The finance authority also approved ADM for tax benefits of up to $200,000 through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act, ADM said.

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  1. Jill Dew says:

    Any clue what “specialty” hospital means anyone?

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