Mark Susemichel, chief development officer for Browning, said Bullitt County is a “perfect” location for its mission and its goal to establish more space for a burgeoning e-commerce industry that has only accelerated during the past year during the Covid-19 pandemic.
And Susemichel said the interest was fueled on its end by Bullitt County’s growing reputation.
“We went down there being told Bullitt County was developer-friendly and it has been proven to be so,” he said. “… There aren’t really any unknowns. You know what you’ve got to do. They lay it all out for you. … You always know where you stand with Bullitt County.”
Browning has quickly anchored itself as one of the major development players in Bullitt County as it previously constructed a more than 700,000-square-foot warehouse inside the 300-acre Velocity 65 Trade Center near Ky. 480 off Alpha Way in Shepherdsville.
Its first facility was leased in 2018 as a distribution center for Walmart.com and Jet.com to fulfill online orders.
Browning followed that up with the recent completion of a 908,600-square-foot speculative building that is designed for a large single user or multiple users.
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“We are flexible,” Susemichel said, adding that the company is bullish on e-commerce’s room to grow. “We have designed the building to really complement e-commerce ability.”
Browning’s story is a familiar one for Bullitt County, as its access to Interstate 65, proximity to UPS Worldport in Louisville, available land and labor pool and the promise of a new interstate interchange near mile marker 114 has created an attractive brew for developers and investors, some of whom have already created millions in development and thousands of jobs.
And signs point to the possibility for even stronger growth in the future as two speculative buildings at or more than 1 million square feet have been completed in the past year with an even bigger one under construction.
The craziest part? Bullitt County’s industrial market was practically nonexistent 20 years ago, forged by early risk-takers who proved its viability.
“A big decision for us was coming to a place where we knew we could fit in and where we knew good developments would be embraced,” Susemichel said. “… The labor story for Bullitt County is good and continues to be good: easily accessed and attractive workers from around Kentucky and Southern Indiana.”
Meanwhile, Browning Investments still views Bullitt County as the land of opportunity, and it has the property needed to build several more large industrial complexes, including one that could potentially stand at 1.5 million square feet if demand is there.
Susemichel said his firm is looking beyond industrial to other commercial opportunities.
The company controls about 50 acres in outlots that could one day be home to restaurants, hotels, offices or mixed-use spaces to service its business park.
“We have used our platform and established an industrial [presence]. We are using that platform to extend into other areas of the Louisville market with other types of development,” he said. “The pandemic has slowed that expansion concept, but we’d like to invest a lot more, both time and money, in Louisville.”