Collaboration Yields Virtual Spec

Monday, May 22, 2017

The construction of a spec building can be an expensive proposition with significant risk involved.  It can also be burdensome to the property owner, developer or municipality that constructs a building that may sit empty for several years.  To complicate things further, often a spec building may not be a good fit for a prospective business, even if the community and available workforce is, potentially forcing a prospect to look elsewhere versus altering an existing facility.

An alternative to constructing a spec building is the growing trend of virtual spec buildings, or a building plan that has received all the required approvals and permits necessary to break ground.  There may not be an existing building that meets a prospective businesses needs in the geographic area they need to locate, so showing them a virtual building on a piece of land is the next best thing.  In addition, a virtual spec building can easily be modified to fit the needs of a prospective business or industry as a shovel has not yet hit the soil.

In west central Wisconsin, the certified shovel ready site in the City of Menomonie, WI, is now host to a virtual spec building.  The nearly 31,000 sq. ft. building’s plans have already received state of Wisconsin approval and could be up and operational in about six months, half the time needed for the construction of a facility without prior permitting

According to Dan Ostermann, a director at the Greater Menomonie Development Corporation, “Not only do you need to have a nice graphic you need to take it the whole next step. All of the permitting, ground study, utility access, approved architecture plans, everything needs to be identified and ready to go. This could shave six months off of the building time. In a competitive environment the company that gets to market first tends to do better. So, most companies want to have their facility up as fast as possible. Anything that will speed up this process will give our region an advantage. Six months can make a big difference.”

The project began to take root after an advisory tour from six members of the Site Selectors Guild in June of 2015, where the limited inventory, especially of significant size existing facilities was minimal.   

“This area is low on inventory of buildings ready to go, and being that the virtual spec is on a certified site it is shovel ready,” Notes Eric Turner, Executive Director of the Dunn County EDC.  “Even if changes are required, these can be made in just a few weeks.”

The cost to construct the building is about $2.2 million.  Specifics include 31,000 square feet on six acres, a 31 stall parking lot, three loading docks, 27,397 square feet of production space and 6,634 square feet of office space.  It can easily be expanded and to double the size.

The many parties involved in this effort believe the virtual spec building will elevate the marketability of the certified site.  The Greater Menomonie Development Corp. worked with the Dunn County Economic Development Corporation and the City of Menomonie from inception of the idea to getting the state approved plans for this speculative building.  According to Dan, “Economic development is a team sport.  The key is to always remember we all are working towards the same common goal, improving the community.”

Category: Gold Shovel