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IDA putting capital improvement plan into motion
IDA site visit 1
Effingham Industrial Development Authority project manager Tre Wilkins points out the entrance road at the I-16 North tract to Dick Knowlton, left, and Swaid Rahn. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

With the nearly 1,560 acres of the tract off Old River Road and Interstate 16 now back under its control, the Effingham Industrial Development Authority is putting into motion its capital improvement plan.

IDA members have approved a to-do list for the site, which totals $1.2 million and includes site preparation, such as clearing, rough grading and grassing to get as much as 100 acres marketable. Also on tap are extending power to the well already on site and engineering and landscaping.

“This is planning enough to get us to where we need to be if a project comes in,” said IDA CEO John Henry.

Added IDA member Dick Knowlton: “So when a prospect steps on the ground, we can tell him we’ll be ready in six months.”

Henry said site preparation could cost from $3,500 to $5,000 per acre.

“The reason we do a capital improvement plan is to make sure we have the money, and Tre and I know what we need to focus on from a capital aspect,” Henry said of he and project manager Tre Wilkins.

The IDA’s property committee visited its various sites last month, including stops at the DRT headquarters under construction at the Governor Treutlen property, the Research Forest Tract and both the I-16 north and south tracts.

“Everybody needs to go out there and comprehend that we are finally creating product,” Knowlton said. “We are essentially creating product, and that’s what we’re in business for.”

For Swaid Rahn, the newest member of the IDA, the site visits were his first chance to get an up-close look at the IDA’s holdings.

“It was a real eye-opener,” he said. “I see the urgency where we need to get something cleaned up and presentable.”

Already under way is the entrance road from Old River Road, which the IDA agreed to take on as a responsibility when its agreement with Moon River Studios still was viable. The deal with the movie studio died earlier this year, and the studio and its parent company’s websites are defunct.

Also as part of the capital improvement plan, the IDA may purse an Army Corps of Engineers 404 wetlands permit on the north tract. Doing so could protect land available for industrial use while protecting the existing jurisdictional wetlands, as determined by the Corps, and acting as a hedge against potential future wetlands regulations.

“We’ve got really good delineation,” Henry said.

The IDA has jurisdictional wetlands delineations on the tract but those expire in a couple of years. The IDA capital improvement plan calls for $50,000 in planning and consulting for the wetlands work.

“We thought it would be a good idea to start the 404 permit and see if we can extend those out as far as possible,” Henry said.