Originally created 05/24/00

Expert: Speculative building lacks appeal

Columbia County's speculative building lacks curb appeal, a company hired to market the building told the development authority Tuesday.

"The finish does not give a good solid feeling to someone driving up," said Raymond Walker, president of The Walker Cos. "When a client comes in and looks at the building, they might get the impression that y'all just picked some random time and just stopped. It just doesn't look finished."

Though his commercial real estate company was hired to sell the prefabricated building nine months ago, this was the first time Mr. Walker had seen the building.

The property was managed by an agent who has since been reassigned within the company.

Mr. Walker said it is time his company and the development authority take a fresh look at why the building has sat on the market for more than a year.

He said a company engineer will be assigned to develop a list of potential improvements, such as exterior painting. Then his company will "reinvigorate people's knowledge and interest in the property" by marketing through direct mail and open-house events.

Mr. Walker also said the authority needs to develop ready-made lease and construction proposals should a prospective tenant be found.

Located in Horizon South Industrial Park, the 128,000-square-foot speculative building was declared substantially complete in December 1998. Columbia County invested $2.4 million in the building, which is now on the market for $2.1 million.

Speculative buildings are useful in attracting new industry because manufacturers quickly can customize them and start production.

Mr. Walker suggested the authority develop ways to lower the lease price by amortizing the project's financing cost over a longer period.

Chairman Ron Thigpen said the development authority is ready to do whatever it takes to get an industrial prospect for the building.

"He's (Mr. Walker) bringing some fresh ideas. Our objective is to sell that and attract industry as quickly as we can," Mr. Thigpen said. ". . . I'm excited about the ideas that he is bringing and look forward to receiving his recommendation."

Reach Melissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 113, or ccchron@augustachronicle.com.


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