Much work remains to be done at the Effingham Economic Development Authority’s I-16/Meldrim tracts, and DP Partners is raring to go.
The EDA and DP Partners consummated a nearly $40 million deal for the two tracts straddling I-16 just outside of Meldrim two weeks ago. DP Partners, one of the nation’s top 10 firms in private commercial property development, will build what it calls the LogistiCenter at Savannah at the site. DP officials, in Pooler on Thursday for the groundbreaking of their LogistiPort at Savannah, said there is still plenty of work to be done before they can move in and get to work on the site.
“We’ve got to nail down sewer and water, and we expect to do that before the end of the year,” DP Partners Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Aaron Paris said.
“Shame on us if we let any of these obstacles stop us,” said state Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler). “We’ve got to make sure the water, the sewer and the other infrastructures are in place.”
Paris projects work on the southern tract to begin sometime in the first quarter of 2008, about the same time the two speculative buildings now under way at the LogistiPort at Savannah will be finished. Those buildings will have more than 1,000,000 square feet of warehouse capacity and the site is about 72 acres.
The Effingham County site will be a $200 million investment, with approximately 5 million square feet of capacity once it’s finished. Building sizes for the LogistiCenter range from almost 16,500 square feet to 1.5 million square feet and the build out for the project is expected to take from five to seven years.
The initial plans call for the first building to be a 400,000 square foot distribution center in the southern tract, which has about 190 acres of upland.
“It puts a lot of arrows in our quiver,” Paris said.
The proximity of the two facilities is also a plus for DP. The Pooler locale is 4 miles from the Georgia Ports Authority’s Garden City terminal, and the I-16 tracts are 15 miles from the port.
“We wanted that combination,” Paris said.
Both projects are within Carter’s 159th District, and the second-term lawmaker is glad to have DP Partners on board.
“I’m elated,” he said. “I am a DP Partner fan, and I am elated to have them as part of our community. DP is one of the components to carry us into the next millennium. That commitment to this area will pay off.”
Carter said the more industrial growth there is, the more it could ease the burden on local taxpayers, and that DP Partners’ investment signifies the area’s booming economy.
“This district is one of the most dynamic districts in the state,” he said. “I tell my fellow legislators, I dare you to compare it to any other area in the state. What’s going on here is phenomenal.”
The key to the growth, Paris and Carter said, is the continuing rapid expansion of the Savannah ports.
“Why Savannah? Why not Norfolk or Jacksonville?” Paris asked. “Savannah is key because of the port. It is one of the most forward thinking ports. It is growing, expanding and looking how it fits into the world.”
Said Carter, “I understand now the significance of the Georgia Ports Authority. It is the economic engine not only for this area, but for the state of Georgia.”
Paris was worried that as the final details of the deal with the Effingham EDA dragged on, another development firm might steal their prize.
“I was worried because I’m sure they were being hounded by all of our competition,” he said. “Now we can start spending money. We have to invest a lot of time, money and energy. I’ve been holding back some of our guys. Now they can get started.”
The LogistiPort and LogistiCenter are also strategically located, according to Paris, with 40 percent of the U.S. market within the reach of a day’s drive. The port’s continued growth and its projected surge in shipping carriers and tonnage served means an increased demand in warehousing and distribution space close by.
“If you build it, we’ll help you fill it up,” said Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Doug Marchand.
DP Partners estimates that when both the LogistiPort and the LogistiCenter are completed, it will generate from 2,000 to 3,000 jobs. Paris also praised Effingham EDA Chief Executive Officer John Henry in guiding the complicated and lengthy deal through.
“John Henry has done a great job,” he said.