IBJ: When did you open Sauget Business Park for development?
Sauget: Our first tenant was Gasket & Seal Fabricators in 1991. They built a 40,000-square-foot building and have about 35 employees there now.
IBJ: How large is the park?
Sauget: It’s about 700 acres. I gradually bought land as it became available — 19 parcels all together. It took a few years to do the assembly.
IBJ: How much development has occurred in the park since then?
Sauget: We have 18 tenants now but one of them is the 255 Logistics Center, which is a multi-tenant facility. It currently has two tenants in it: Medline Medical and Star Manufacturing. There’s a total of 1.6 million square feet under roof and the park’s tenants employ almost 1,000 people. There’s been more than $75 million of development over that time span. Our newest tenant, FedEx Ground is set to open its 210,000-square-foot processing center next month. They’ll employ 150 people.
IBJ: To what do you attribute this growth?
Sauget: We’ve grown a lot with St. Louis Downtown Airport. It’s the third busiest airport in the State of Illinois after O’Hare and Midway. It attracts a lot of business and it also was instrumental in the installation of the Mousette Lane interchange, which gives us great access to I-255.
IBJ: You also have an enterprise zone and a tax increment finance district, correct?
Sauget: Yes. The TIF district is the primary incentive. We use it to rebate anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of the developer’s property tax for the duration of the district, which expires in 2027. The enterprise zone provides a sales tax exemption on building materials and utilities.
IBJ: Was the proximity of the airport what attracted FedEx Ground?
Sauget: No, not at all. This is FedEx Ground. It’s a completely different division from FedEx Logistics. They could have gone anywhere in the metropolitan area, but they pretty well knew where they wanted to be. They had it all mapped out before they came into our office. We didn’t have to sell them on it. They didn’t want to be any place other than right there. They thought it was absolutely the best possible place in the metro area.
This facility will handle 10,000 packages per hour when it becomes fully operational. The state helped land the deal with $459,000 in tax credits through its Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The tax credits are spread over 10 years and are dependent on FedEx Ground meeting the job creation goals.
FedEx said it chose the location because of ease of access to major highways, its proximity to customers’ distribution centers and the strong workforce pool.
The building will actually be owned by Sauget FXG, a subsidiary of Jones Development Company from Kansas City, and it will lease the building to FedEx Ground.
IBJ: Do you think that’s a big stamp of approval for Sauget Business Park?
Sauget: I sure do and R & L Carriers was pretty much the same way. R&L is a large interstate trucking company headquartered in Wilmington, Ohio. They thought the location was ideal for getting in and out of St. Louis as well as accessing the region. They too felt the location was so strong. They didn’t want to be north, they didn’t want to be south, they wanted to be somewhere in the middle with ready access to St. Louis and the interstate highway system.
IBJ: How many acres remain available for development?
Sauget: 350. We’ve been at it a long time, but we’ve been very selective in what we’ve been trying to put in there. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into this park and it’s been paying off.