by Debbie Coleman-Topi
The Riverside Board of Aldermen took historic action Tuesday night when it gave the green light to the final plans in the current phase of construction in the massive Horizons Industrial Park.
The vote followed approval by the city's planning and zoning board and marks four years of collaboration between the city and the developer, NorthPoint Development, and its contractors, all of whom have offices in the park.
Horizons is located south of Highway 9 and north and east of Interstate 635.
The final development combines three existing lots into one approximately 400,000-square-foot facility located in the eastern edge of the park just south of 41st St. The developer soon will advertise the spaces for lease, said Michael Duffy, director of community development for Riverside.
The latest development in the complex is located just south of the previous most recent development, which is the park's largest, at 491,000 square feet, Duffy said.
That area currently has about half of the space leased to businesses.
Tenants include a variety of companies, including one that distributes concessions to area movie theaters, a sprinkler parts company and one that focuses on packaging products.
Those tenants are expected to occupy the space by about mid-September, he said.
Businesses occupying the 700-acre site are diverse and include a company dedicated to the delivery of fresh seafood to area restaurants and grocery stores and an auto parts supplier serving area GM and Ford plants. The park has increased employment opportunities and employs about as many people as there are residents in Riverside: 3,0000.
Duffy stressed that businesses in the park currently are hiring. Truck drivers and skilled maintenance workers are the park's most frequently-available positions, he said.
Duffy said the park began life nearly 20 years ago as a vision by community members and leaders who created a sketch on a drawing board. The massive park occupies about one-third of the city's land mass, he said.
Demand was greatest in the first years of the park's construction, following the recession. Recent activity has slowed, but continues to be steady, Duffy said.
The park has spawned other area development, including a housing project located just north of the complex, overlooking the bluff.
While the board's actions marked a milestone in the park's history, Duffy said city leaders are always looking toward the future. He added that the area boasts about 20 acres of yet-to-be-developed Horizons Park property to the west.
He said the entire park is expected to be developed within the next 10 years.