Local officials say they are hoping new owners can breathe life into one of the metro area’s largest vacant industrial buildings.
The building, the massive 650,000-square-foot former Quad/Graphics printing plant and distribution facility in Evans, has been acquired by Evans Industrial Partners of Augusta LLC, an investment group affiliated with Augusta-based Sherman & Hemstreet Real Estate Co. The Columbia County property had been idle for nearly a year after the Wisconsin-based company began shutting down the commercial printing plant and distribution facility in late 2015 as part of a company-wide downsizing plan.
The sale to Evans Industrial Partners was announced Tuesday. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed and public records on the transaction were not immediately available. Last year the 81-acre property was listed on the market at $9,750,000.
Evans Industrial Partners is headed by Bill Hock, president of Hock Development Co., and his son Charles, a vice president at Sherman & Hemstreet, which will be marketing the property at 4301 Evans to Locks Road to commercial and industrial tenants.
Robbie Bennett, executive director of the Columbia County Development Authority, said local ownership makes it easier for him to help find a major industrial tenant for the property, which was built in 1981 by W.F. Hall Printing Co. and employed as many as several hundred employees at various times under different owners.
About 250 jobs were lost when Quad/Graphics began shuttering the plant in December 2015.
“I’m very excited that Charles and Bill and Sherman & Hemstreet are now behind it,” Bennett said Wednesday. “It gives me a partner who I know and have worked with – and can work with going forward.”
Charles Hock said Wednesday that the building’s sheer size, coupled with its 24-foot to 48-foot high ceilings, 25 loading docks and direct access to CSX rail lines, made it an attractive acquisition.
“There are really only three buildings in the entire Southeast of its size and quality with rail,” he said. “It’s a rarity; it’s been called a ‘unicorn.’”
Hock said the entire property is up for lease, but that the building could be subdivided into smaller portions based on the needs of a prospective tenant. He said the most likely user would be a warehousing/distribution operator, but added that the property’s dedicated Georgia Power lines, 25,200 square feet of offices and 400 parking spaces could make it suitable for a data center.
“We have a lot of flexibility; the building can meet a lot of different needs,” he said. “We’re just excited about owning it and getting it productive again.
Sherman & Hemstreet President Joe Edge said the company hopes the building will “bring jobs back that were lost when Quad/Graphics closed the site.” Hock said he hopes to have part, or all, of the building leased within the next six to 12 months.
Bennett said the property’s pre-sale environmental remediation study, which are common in commercial and industrial real estate transactions, will assist him in marketing the building as a “clean” site.
“Prior to the sale, we had a building that we didn’t know if it was clean or not,” he said. “Now we’re able to say this has been done and that has been done.”
Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3352 or firstname.lastname@example.org