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Grande View expected to draw attention
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It’s more than just location, location, location that the owners of Grande View believe will make their property attractive — but it doesn’t hurt, either.

Effingham Industrial Properties showed off the tract, off Old Augusta Road, on Friday afternoon and trumpeted what makes their site advantageous for prospective industries.

“The property owners asked me, as a site selector, what I thought,” said Dick Knowlton, who is part of the tract’s marketing effort.

Knowlton was executive director of the Savannah Economic Development Authority, and he was behind the creation of the successful Crossroads Business Park near the Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport. What he sees with Grande View, he said, reminds him of what he saw with Crossroads.

“With Crossroads, it was unique in its time,” he said. “There wasn’t anything else like it.”

The initial plans call for a 350-acre tract of upland to be developed. It can be turned into as many parcels as needed to handle various industrial uses, including manufacturers.

Knowlton said the property also is heavily buffered naturally, with woods and wetlands, and the two nearest neighbors to the tract are industries — Georgia-Pacific’s Savannah River Mill and Georgia Power’s Plant McIntosh.

And, Knowlton pointed out, the location is strategic — it’s 12 miles to the port, eight miles to the interstate and the land also sits on a dome, meaning plants that require a deep foundation can dig without worrying about coming near the water table.

“You really have to see it to understand the magnitude of it,” he said. “It is 85 percent of what a manufacturing site selector is looking for.”

Originally, the Grandview tract was zoned residential. But as the housing market careened, the landowners turned to industrial zoning.

The Effingham Industrial Development Authority has around 50 acres on a sprayfield at its Effingham Industrial Park and needs road work to be done to make its south tract at I-16 more viable. But the IDA does show other tracts zoned industrial in the county to prospects, and the Grande View tract is expected to generate significant interest.

“We’re very excited about this property,” said IDA Chairman Chap Bennett.

Said IDA Chief Executive Officer John Henry: “It’s going to be a great asset to Effingham County in the future. It will be at the top of the list when big prospects come to town.”

Henry said the Grande View tract’s advantages also include the planned improvements to Old Augusta Road and the accessibility of water and sewer lines.

“We don’t necessarily plan for right now. We look at five years out,” he said. “This is really shovel ready.”

Of the 14 major prospects the IDA worked last year, more than 70 percent were shown to privately-owned and industrial-zoned property.

“If I have information on it,” Henry said, “I show it.”

A $1 billion project that eventually wound up going to Alabama and will result in 2,000 jobs ruled out Coastal Georgia because of the height of the water table. But at the Grande View property, that wouldn’t have been a problem, according to Henry.

“That (elevation) is tremendous in this market,” he said. “It allows us to draw projects of any size and any type into Effingham County, from 40-50 jobs to 2,000 jobs. You’ve got the full gamut here.”

As companies and site selectors take a look at Grande View, the key is making it difficult for them to say no, according to Knowlton.

“The secret to success in the business is staying the selection process. The process is one of elimination,” he said. “I’m convinced Grande View will remain in the search process. The site is strong enough to get to that point. Effingham County has been very successful when it has a chance to compete.”

Much of the land for the property highlighted Friday is a former quail hunting preserve, and the owners want to preserve as much of the natural setting as possible around the potential uses.

“The land tells you to be a good steward,” said Knowlton. “The land tells you you need to be careful, and you need to do it right.”