The Augusta Corporate Park, the city's largest undeveloped industrial property, could see its first major construction activity later this year.
The Development Authority of Richmond County on Tuesday gave the go-ahead to cut an entryway into the park, a thickly wooded, 1,522-acre plot located 15 miles south of the city.
The paved entrance, which would extend about a quarter-mile into the property, will make it much easier for economic developers to market the land to potential industrial tenants, officials said.
The property has sat largely undisturbed since it was given to the Development Authority, a taxpayer-funded public entity, in 1993 by the Kimberly-Clark Co.
A 6-by-17 foot brick sign would be placed at the entrance. Presently, no markings identify the land as an industrial park.
Officials on Tuesday said they were awaiting the proposals and did not know the total project cost. Development Authority revenue comes from interest on tax-free bonds it issues to private-sector companies.
Augusta-Richmond County will award the road contract on a competitive bid process, officials said.
The entrance will be on Georgia Highway 56 about a half-mile south of Horseshoe Road, a location which had to pass Georgia Department of Transportation muster because of the heavy trucks and other traffic that will eventually travel in and out of the property.
"That intersection will have more than 1,000 feet of visibility from either direction," Development Authority Attorney Jerry Dye said.
The preliminary entryway will give immediate access to prime spots within the park as well as the proposed $3.2 million Augusta Technical Institute training facility fronting Georgia 56.
Likely industrial sites would eventually be "selectively cleared" of timber.
The Development Authority has contracted with a Martinez-based forestry consultant to harvest trees when clearing becomes necessary.
The road likely will be extended farther into the park's interior when tenants commit to move in. The park has not been subdivided and currently has no master plan.
"The first user is going to dictate the use of the park," said Ed Dickerson of Southern Partners, the Development Authority's engineering firm.
Development Authority officials said they are considering naming the street after a prominent local individual, but declined to be more specific Tuesday.
"That's something we're not ready to talk about yet," said Harrell Tiller, chairman of the authority's real estate subcommittee.
Before the Asian financial crisis, the Augusta Corporate Park was to be the site of Hankook Synthetics' polyester fiber plant.
The $1.2 billion project, which is said by officials with the South Korean company to be on indefinite hold, was slated to occupy 500 acres at the park.
Damon Cline covers business for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (706) 823-3486.