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INDIANAPOLIS-WellPoint Inc. has signed an 11-year lease for 117,500 sf in the Indianapolis Maintenance Center (IMC). The locally based health benefits company plans to move there and expand its rapidly growing specialty pharmacy business, which is currently located in Mason, OH.

A WellPoint spokesman tells GlobeSt.com that the company considered several options across the nation before settling on office space at IMC, a sprawling 1.5-million-sf facility originally built for United Airlines. He says that timing, as well as an attractive incentive package, helped seal the deal. The company will move its PrecisionRX Specialty Solutions pharmacy business into IMC in phases beginning near the end of first quarter 2007. Improvements to WellPoint’s space in IMC’s 132,000-sf office component are slated to begin soon, he adds.

The WellPoint deal brings the occupancy rate of IMC to 92%, says Patzetta Trice, vice president of communications and marketing for BAA, Indianapolis LLC, which operates the Indianapolis International Airport. In addition to the 132,000-sf office component known as the Common Area, the 1.5-million-sf facility comprises 12 hangars and warehouse and shop space. Built using city and state incentives, IMC was occupied by United Airlines in 1994.

The Indianapolis Airport Authority, which took possession of the 248-acre structure built on 300 acres in 2003 after the airline declared bankruptcy, has recruited a variety of tenants for the property. Other occupants of IMC include AAR Aircraft, which leases five hangars and has options on three others; Chautauqua Airlines, which leases two hangars; Indianapolis Diversified Machining, which leases shop space; and Shenker Inc., which leases half of the supply building and has an option on the other half.

WellPoint plans to grow its specialty pharmacy business, which currently employs 160 people in Ohio, to 900 employees over the next five years, the company spokesperson says. The new Indiana facility will primarily serve as a prescription fulfillment center processing more than 1 million shipments per year. The company is also expanding its managed care Medicaid operations, which is expected to create another 300 jobs in Indiana.

WellPoint’s incentive package includes up to $2.1 million in rent credit from the Airport Authority designated for space improvements, a $5-million forgivable loan in return for the company’s commitment to invest approximately $12 million in capital while creating 1,200 new jobs from the Indiana Economic Development Corp (IEDC), and up to $3 million in tax credits from the IEDC. In addition, WellPoint will receive a property tax exemption for its IMC expansion, since the property is owned by the tax-exempt Airport Authority.

The WellPoint spokesman says that the Mason, OH, space that’s being vacated by the company’s specialty pharmacy business will be absorbed by NextRx, WellPoint’s pharmacy benefit management company. He says that about 100 new jobs are being created in Ohio.

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