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EDA, DP Partners come to terms
Board, development firm finalize contract for I-16 tracts
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After a year in the works, the deal with DP Partners is done.

The Effingham County Economic Development Authority finalized its contract with the developer Thursday morning, ending months of talks. Under the terms of the deal, DP Partners will develop and market the EDA’s holdings straddling I-16 near Meldrim.

“We’re excited,” EDA Chairman Martin Wilkins said. “We put a lot of work into this project. Working with the county and the residents, I think everyone has pulled together to create something that will benefit the community for generations to come.”

Effingham EDA Chief Executive Officer John Henry said the project will be the largest industrial complex in the state behind the Kia auto plant being built near West Point.

“And we don’t have all of that state support in hand,” he said. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for a county of this size.”

The deal is worth about $38 million to the EDA and the value of the land with capital investment will be about $100 million.

Board members discussed the final details of the contract, including the cost of finishing infrastructure work if a significant delay has taken place.

“That’s fantastic,” said Jeremy Merklinger, Southeast region manager for DP Partners, of the board’s vote. “I’m thrilled we can crank up our due diligence machine.”

DP Partners signed a letter of intent with the EDA on Sept. 25 to purchase 1,738 acres from the EDA. The land is being bought in phases, the first being 140 acres on the south side of I-16. Two more tracts of 250 acres each will follow. Of the 1,738 acres on the north side, approximately 640 are developable.

In five to seven years, DP Partners plans to build a commercial park worth $200,000,000 consisting of eight to 15 facilities totaling 5 million square feet. Sizes of buildings will range from 100,000 square feet to 1 million square feet.

DP Partners’ first order of business is on the south side, where it plans to put up a 400,000 speculative distribution center.

DP Partners also soon will open its LogistiPort at Savannah, a 72-acre site off Dean Forest Road.

“Timing-wise, it’s going to be fantastic,” Merklinger said.

Wilkins also appreciated DP Partners for being willing to come to Effingham and to work through the process of getting the appropriate zoning.

“We are excited about the caliber of company they are coming to Effingham County,” he said. “We are also excited about the caliber of company they can bring to us. They are working with us to lay the groundwork to bring those companies to us. You couldn’t ask for a better partner in that than DP Partners.”

But there is still plenty of work to be done at the site before other companies start moving in. The EDA is working on providing water and sewer service to the tracts and improvements must be made to the roads in the area, specifically the straightening of the curve at Old River Road near the planned entrance to the northern tract.

“We wanted to make sure we got it right,” Henry said. “Now our work begins to get our site ready in the time constraints we have been afforded, which is not an easy job.”

In previous discussions, EDA members worried about losing DP Partners if they could not provide the infrastructure in time. Their final issues Thursday included how much the EDA would be on the hook for if DP Partners opted to finish the road work itself if the state Department of Transportation got held up in completing it. The I-16 work has been put on the DOT’s short term work program.