Originally created 11/26/05

County OKs loan for spec building



Columbia County has taken the next step toward construction of another speculative building in either Horizon North or South industrial parks.

Columbia County commissioners recently approved the Development Authority's pursuit of a $450,000 loan from the USDA's Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program.

Such a loan would be used to construct a spec building that could be used to attract new businesses. The loan has already been approved, but as part of the process, the Columbia County Development Authority needed the county's support to make it official.

"The provision of that loan is that it be backed by a letter of credit," said Zack Daffin, development authority director. "And we aren't in the position to issue a letter of credit. So the county is acting as a support mechanism that allows us to do that."

Mr. Daffin said officials are considering where the building would go - either in Horizon North or Horizon South industrial parks in Grovetown.

"Really, the ball is in our court to get all of our ducks in a row so we can move forward," he said. "... So we're trying right now to determine right where we want this building to be located and in doing so, we're going to partner with a private developer.''

The last time the county built a spec building, it took about five years to sell. County officials say that's normal for a spec building.

"Usually, a spec building may go as long as five or six years before you do something with it,'' Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross said.

He said the commission supports the idea of a spec building because it helps new businesses see the potential in an area.

"You really have to have something to show to get people to come and look,'' Mr. Cross said. "It may not fit their need, but it opens up the area to them and they can see what's available. It's almost imperative to have some type of spec building to do economic development.''

Mr. Daffin said the speculative building now being planned will be about 50,000 square feet and the cost, including land and other related expenditures, would be about $1.2 million. He said through grants and other means, the development authority will make up the remaining difference from the loan and the building's total cost.

He said ground could be broken on the new building as early as the next month or two or as late as the spring.

Once the work begins, he said, it will likely take about seven months to eight months to complete the building. However, he said the county could market the building while it's being constructed.

Reach Preston Sparks at 868-1222, ext. 115, or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

WHAT'S NEXT:

The Columbia County Development Authority will continue to mull over an exact location for a new speculative building to be constructed either in Horizon North or South industrial parks. Officials say they hope to break ground on such a building as early as in the next month or two or as late as the spring.