A decade ago, The Pizzuti Companies developed a 304,000- square-foot, build-to-suit distribution center for Accel Inc. just north of Columbus, Ohio. In the fall of 2010, the contract packaging service provider again turned to Pizzuti to deliver a larger, more efficient headquarters and operations center to be located in the New Albany Business Park in New Albany, Ohio. The development features four targeted innovation campuses designed to allow businesses to increase innovation, productivity and competitiveness.
The long-standing relationship between The Pizzuti Companies and Accel Inc. helped to ensure a smooth process as the new facility in New Albany was being planned. The Village of New Albany, and their pro-active approach to attracting new business, further facilitated a compressed and sometimes challenging schedule.
Top executives from the two firms who had brokered the original build-to-suit project 10 years earlier were still in place at their respective companies. As a result, both parties had a clear understanding of expectations and the goals and objectives of the development. This included an appreciation by Pizzuti of the importance of meeting “market-driven” timeframes for their client.
Pizzuti’s integrated development system, with experts in project management, construction, design, process integration, financing, site identification and analysis and legal, provided Accel with “one-stop” shopping for their new build-to-suit headquarters and operations center.
Enhancing Supply Chain Efficiencies
The new 417,000-square-foot home for Accel Inc., a private company founded in 1995, was necessary to improve productivity and efficiency as the company prepared to embark on a long-term supply agreement with one of its major clients.
The new headquarters and operations center, designed by Columbus-based Glavan Feher Architects, is targeted to achieve LEED Silver certification and was the first facility built in the Personal Care and Beauty Park innovation campus along the Route 161/New Albany Expressway. The park is an integrated supply chain hub to support companies within the beauty and personal care industry that benefit from common supply chain contractors.
Founded in 1837, the Village of New Albany truly came to life in the last two decades as a result of the passion and ingenuity of individuals who believe it’s not just where they live, but how they live that defines their quality of life. A community originally settled with an industry based on agriculture and farming, New Albany set out on creating a new vision of commerce and cooperation based on the values and tradition of their earliest residents.
Today, New Albany leaves nothing to chance. Thoughtful, innovative planning and attention to detail has created a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly community with a commitment to education, wellness, culture and leisure that enriches families and businesses alike.
One of the products of this innovative planning is the Personal Care and Beauty Campus. With Accel Inc. as the anchor tenant of this new park, the campus targets a specific market sector and businesses with complementary capabilities, suppliers and customers. The campus features a mix of development approaches, including build-to-suit and BTS-leasebacks as well as multi-tenant facilities for tenants that don’t require a stand-alone building.
The new Accel Inc. headquarters and operations center was the first project developed within the Personal Care and Beauty Campus and will serve as a catalyst to the overall campus development. The architecture, landscaping and building concept is the model for future expansion of the park.
“Accel is a forward-thinking and innovative company and I think they saw those same traits in our community. New Albany’s business park offers easy access along multiple interchanges and integrated infrastructure like dual-feed power and access to more than 180 telecom providers at reduced rates. Pizzuti recognizes the importance of providing not just a good product but an inspiring one, and Accel’s new headquarters reflects this,” said community development director Jennifer Chrysler.
Jumping In with Both Feet
Accel’s new facility uses a more complex conveyor system for increased speed; a new pallet-stacking system to allow for more effective use of space; and improved technology for production and shipment management.
With project completion targeted for summer 2011 because of business requirements, Accel officials faced an ambitious development timeline. Infrastructure work, including access roads, water service, sewer lines and other utilities, had yet to begin in the park, and the site identified for the new Accel facility was burdened with a large swale that required elimination prior to the start of vertical construction.
Pizzuti requested that the site’s property owner and the Village of New Albany initiate site and infrastructure work as Pizzuti’s land purchase agreement was being finalized. Working in a true public/ private partnership, the Village and the property owner took steps to accelerate the construction timetable which allowed Pizzuti to immediately begin work on the building right after closing. The landowner and Village officials subsequently made the decision to prepare the entire park for development in a similar manner, and each of the planned building sites has been converted to a pad-ready status.
Mother Nature, the Economy and Creative Financing
Shortly after beginning foundation work, Pizzuti and Accel Inc. officials held a ceremonial ground-breaking ceremony in early December 2010. The winter and spring months brought a number of weather-related challenges, including colder-than-normal temperatures and record rainfall numbers throughout the first quarter of 2011. The construction team, led by Pizzuti Construction Services, was experienced in completing significant industrial projects in less-than-ideal conditions, and the project team anticipated the need to include funds in the budget to address weather-related issues. In spite of the weather challenges en countered during the construction process, the building was successfully delivered on schedule.
Construction on the Accel Inc. facility began when the financial market for new construction loans was tenuous at best. In mid-2010, traditional lenders such as local banks and financial institutions were primarily concentrating on managing their balance sheets and only very selectively seeking construction loans. The Pizzuti team understood that securing financing for a new build-to-suit facility in that financial environment would require creativity, flexibility and a spirit of cooperation from all parties involved in the project. Pizzuti quickly identified Chicago-based Heitman Capital as a potential funding source for the new BTS headquarters and operations center. Heitman, a multi-national real estate investment management firm, was seeking opportunities in Ohio and officials recognized an opportunity to place capital before banks again became more active in commercial real estate lending. Additionally, individuals within Pizzuti had previously established relationships with the lender, which was a key component in quickly moving the project forward.
The team developed a financing package that featured a five-year term rather than a more traditional two-year agreement. The financing structure also allowed Accel Inc.’s principals to participate as an owner/investor rather than solely as a tenant in the new facility.
The Three C’s of Development
Accel Inc.’s new headquarters and operations center was designed and built to be environmentally friendly. In addition to the use of sustainable materials, the double-height building with mezzanine was designed to reduce the company’s carbon footprint. Accel officials also anticipate a boost in productivity through the use of a more complex conveyor system for increased speed; a new pallet-stacking system to allow for more effective use of space; and improved technology for production and shipment management.
“The Accel project follows all the sustainable design, construction and operations standards we were shooting for. Pizzuti has helped to set a high standard for future projects in our Beauty and Personal Care Campus.” Chrysler noted.
Pizzuti officials attribute the successful development of the new facility in part to their familiarity with Accel and a thorough understanding of the contract-packaging provider’s operations and goals. But more importantly they recognize the project also benefited greatly from flexibility and adaptability demonstrated throughout the process by Village officials and the landowner.
“When timing is of the essence, cooperation is essential,” said James S. Russell, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of the Pizzuti Companies. “Without the commitment of each of the parties involved, meeting the challenges of this project could have been daunting. We’re all appreciative of everyone’s efforts to bring this project together.”
Even in the most challenging times, a project can find its way to great success. Creativity, cooperation and consensus are the foundation – the right partnerships build the project.