Helgesen News

All filled up?
Vacant Janesville industrial space almost nonexistent

As a developer, landlord and builder, Jeff Helgesen knows a thing or two about keeping tenants happy.

More often than not, he's been able to help when they need more production space.

Helgesen is doing that again, and he's doing it in a Janesville market where vacant industrial space is almost nonexistent.

"There's just no space left in Janesville," said Helgesen, owner of Helgesen Development Corp.

Helgesen’s observation is borne out in data collected by the Rock County Development Alliance, which tracks vacancy rates in the most significant industrial properties in the county.

Since 2010, Janesville's industrial building vacancy rate has fallen dramatically.

Among several properties in Janesville, Helgesen owns the Helgesen Industrial Center at 2929 Venture Drive and another building at 101 Venture, just across Beloit Avenue.

Formerly home to a parade of General Motors' suppliers, 2929 Venturesat empty after GM closed its Janesville plant in 2008.

Helgesen invested millions of dollars to remodel the 700,000-square-foot building, which is now fully occupied by two tenants. Miniature Precision Components has 460,000 square feet of space, and John Deere Central Consolidated operates in the remaining 240,000 square feet.

Across Beloit Avenue, Cummins Emissions Solutions leases 187,500 square feet of space and employs about 60 people in another Helgesen building.

Cummins needs more space, preferably under one roof, for its distribution and light assembly operation.

Helgesen proposed a 150,000-square-foot addition to the west end of 2929 Venture Drive. With building permit in hand, he awaited a decision from Cummins, which ultimately decided to rent a building Helgesen owns at 505 S. Withering Hills Drive.

For the time being, Cummins will work out of two Janesville facilities. Helgesen said the 110,000-square-foot building on Wuthering Hills could be expanded to meet Cummins' needs if it wants a single location.

"Or we could just build them a new building," he said.

Helgesen will likely wait to build the addition at 2929 Venture until spring, which should give him time to find tenants. Existing tenant MPC, he noted, is expecting growth for the next four years and already has nearly doubled the space it expected to use in the renovated industrial center.

By Jim Leute
jleute@gazettextra.com