John Deere plans Janesville expansion
Helgesen Development has signed a three-year lease with John Deere Central Consolidated for about 237,500 square feet in a building Helgesen owns at 2929 Venture Drive on Janesville’s south side.
Through a third party, John Deere operates in a 500,000-square-foot building across Beloit Avenue from the Venture Drive property. With the expansion into Helgesen’s building, the company will occupy nearly 750,000 square feet of space in Janesville’s Beloit Avenue Industrial Corridor.
The John Deere expansion isn’t expected to add jobs, but Jeff Helgesen said he’s been working on another deal to bring a manufacturer into his building. That company, he said, would require about 400,000 square feet and would create about 400 jobs.
“We’ve been at it for two years,” Helgesen said. “Hopefully, we can wrap it up soon.”
Helgesen’s building, formerly the home of General Motors supplier LSI, contains 700,000 square feet. Helgesen now leases about 150,000 square feet as flex space to three local manufacturers.
If he lands the large prospect, Helgesen said he’d likely move some or all of his smaller tenants out of the former LSI building, which is now known as the Helgesen Industrial Center.
Ken Golden, director of global public relations for the Moline, Ill-based Deere & Co., said Deere does not operate many of the warehousing operations that serve its factories. In Janesville, a company named Landair operates the warehouse.
Golden said Deere asked Landair to acquire additional space as grows its business, particularly in utility vehicles. The additional space is needed for warehousing parts and finished goods.
Employment at the Janesville location is Landair’s responsibility, he said.
On its website, Landair describes itself as a provider of supply chain management solutions, including transportation, third party logistics and warehouse management.
Local databases indicate that the 50 or so workers at the Janesville operation do sub-assembly work and handle logistics and distribution to serve a Deere factory in Horicon.
The Horicon plant makes lawn and garden equipment, utility vehicles and golf and turf mowers.
After LSI left in 2009, Helgesen invested $2.5 million to convert the quarter-mile-long, single-use building into a flexible, multi-tenant complex. Lowe’s Millwork, Cummins Emissions Solutions and Freedom Graphics lease space in the building.
“I’m very interested in continuing to serve these companies with their flex-space needs,” he said. “If the big one comes through, I might have to look at building another building on Venture Drive to do that.”
James Otterstein, Rock County’s economic development manager, said John Deere’s expansion is another example of the county’s advantages.
“Available, right-sized real estate combined with geography and an enhanced transportation network create a compelling logistics business case,” he said.
The Janesville-based Helgesen Development has a real estate portfolio with about 2.3 million square feet, primarily in Wisconsin and Illinois.
“Since 1949, HDC has continually positioned itself as a value-added, integrated construction services company,” Helgesen said. “We’ve made significant investments in the Janesville-Beloit area, and we look forward to creating a win-win environment for our existing and new clients.”
Otterstein said Helgesen understands the nuances of complex site development decisions in a challenging economy.
“He is an advocate for the area, and his real estate investments, both past and present, provide visible examples of that commitment,” Otterstein said.