Originally created 11/27/02

Deere takes over warehouse

Walking through the John Deere warehouse in Horizon South Industrial Park, Columbia County Development Authority member Bobby Culpepper was almost awe-struck.

"It's amazing what they can do, isn't it?" he said.

Just a few months ago, the building was a shell - a speculative building built by the Development Authority, aimed at drawing companies to the area. By Tuesday morning, the 128,000-square-foot building had been transformed into offices and warehousing space operated by Bennett Distribution Services.

The space is filled with tractor parts for Deere & Co.'s plants in the industrial park near Grovetown.

Development Authority members came to the building Tuesday for their regular meeting and a tour of the facility. During their meeting, members approved issuing up to $4.5 million in bonds for Deere to purchase and renovate the spec building.

Officials estimate the cost of the building and work at $4.1 million, but they included a $400,000 cushion in bonds if it is needed. The bonds string $1.5 million in payments during the next 10 years, with the balance due Dec. 31, 2012.

Workers moved into the building Nov. 1, three months after the Development Authority announced the building had been sold and five years after the bonds to finance construction of the building were issued.

Also at Tuesday's meeting, Development Authority members agreed to sell the final parcel in the Horizon South Industrial Park for $245,800. The contract is now in the hands of Blueprint Leasing LLC - a development company. The company has 90 days to approve or reject the contract.

The 12.297-acre tract at Wrightsboro Road and John Deere Parkway will eventually be home to another John Deere-related company. Development Authority Executive Director Bryan Quinsey would not name the company and did not know how many jobs it would bring.

"This helps to ensure (John Deere) doesn't move anywhere for a while," he said.

Reach Jason B. Smith at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 115, or jbsmith@augustachronicle.com.


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