Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Rootin' for Newton

Tony Wilbert over at Skyline Views posts that a huge General Mills distribution center is being considered in the Covington area, about 30 minutes south of Watkinsville.

In a commercial and industrial real estate market that is largely dead, I would imagine local and state officials are falling all over themselves to land this deal. While we wouldn't want to debate with Skyline Views on whether they are truly looking at Social Circle proper, one has to wonder if the most logical location is Stanton Springs, the four-county industrial park and mixed-use effort along I-20 that has long been searching for a big fish. One local blogger even posited years ago that Stanton Springs was prime competition for our very own (well, not really ours) Orkin tract at the intersection of 78 and 316 for bioscience projects.

While the counties -- Newton, Morgan, Jasper and Walton -- began work on Stanton Springs 10 years ago, landing a 1.3 million square foot facility will be proof positive that going ahead and getting your land under contract (or secured) and "pad ready" is absolutely necessary to secure a landmark tenant, especially in this environment (likely along with a sizable marketing investment).

Our community has learned this lesson the hard way, as our inability to actually secure the Orkin tract (it is still owned by its namesake family in Atlanta) has reportedly led to uncertainty in many of our past efforts to land top industrial tenants. And uncertainty isn't good.

So, while the proposed facility certainly wouldn't compare to a corporate headquarters (General Mills HQ is pictured), you certainly wouldn't find anyone complaining in this economy.


Anonymous said...

Stanton Springs would make sense, and the search definitely covers the general area around Social Circle (both north and south of I-20. Would be a good fit and is on rail line.

Brian said...

Nice scoop, Skyline!

Matt said...

Stanton Springs was our main Georgia competition for the big bio-science companies that looked at Orkin. I can remember presenting to Novartis right after the Stanton Springs group did, and thinking we might be screwed because they (SS) had TPA on their team (It's a Technology Park Atlanta property). But, SS ended up getting cut before we did, much for the same reason we eventually got cut: the company didn't believe that there was a trained workforce in the area that was sufficient to meet their needs in vaccine production. We, at least, had UGA and Athens Tech going for us. Stanton Springs is going to work eventually, but it's not going to be as a Tech park. It's going to be as a Distribution Center/Warehouse center facility, with maybe some light manufacturing, all because of the proximity to I-20.