The largest commercial development in Central Indiana is coming to Boone County. How big will it be? Where will it be located and who will be building in this development? Those are questions that have not been answered completely.
One piece of that puzzle has been put into place, but it hasn’t put people at ease.
“It’s the quality of life you have out here. I taught my kids to play soccer in that front yard,” Marty Pickens said. Pickens has lived on a stretch of road in rural Boone County for 30 years. Sitting in his garage surrounded by the trappings of a life well lived suits him just fine.
“We can sit on our deck, pop a little Grateful Dead on, ya know, listen to some music and just kind of enjoy ourselves of an evening. That’s gone,” Pickens said.
The papers in his hands spell out in some vague detail the plans for a development that will essentially cut right through his land. On the list are 50 property owners that have committed to selling their land to the state for the development.
He knew eventually the I-65 corridor would bring new development into the county and eventually knock on his door. The state has poured millions of dollars to expand the concrete artery that connects Indiana to its north and south borders. The first company to land in Boone County is well-known to central Indiana.
Last month, Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. announced plans to invest $2.1 billion to build two manufacturing plants at the new LEAP Lebanon Innovation and Research District site in Boone County. The project is expected to create up to 500 jobs.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more coming down the road. Lilly is kind of first out of the gate for us” said the Mayor of Lebanon, Matt Gentry. He says the development is really just getting off the ground.
The state is really the primary driver behind the development and Gentry understands that uncertainty of the development has people building fences.
“This is a once-in-a-generation type of investment that is happening in Lebanon. It is a unique investment that is going to have a lot of great potential benefits today and for people in the future,” Gentry said.
Pickens has an offer from a development company to sell his house. He is getting ready for retirement, but his wife isn’t yet. They have family close by, so he is hoping the treasured view across the field will remain clear to the horizon for a while longer.
“I don’t know what we are going to be able to do to stop it,” Pickens said.