$500 million industrial park planned in South Effingham

Developers on Thursday announced a $500 million industrial park will be constructed on 1,150 acres on Ga. 21 and the CSX rail line in southern Effingham County, aimed at light industrial and manufacturing warehouse customers.

Stonemont Financial Group of Atlanta and Chesterfield, LLC, developers in Jacksonville, said construction will start in December on two speculative buildings totaling 562,000 square feet and should be done in October 2019.

The park will be known as the Georgia International Trade Center (GITC). The Class A space will be 9.5 miles from the Georgia Ports Authority’s Garden City Terminal.

The land and first two spec buildings will be worth about $50 million, but when the entire park is built in five to 10 years, it will include 7.2 million square feet and be an investment of $400 million to $500 million, according to Stephen Ezelle, a partner with Cushman & Wakefield | Gilbert & Ezelle in Savannah.

Ezelle said Chesterfield is also constructing 1.7 million square feet in three buildings in the Savannah River International Trade Park – for JLA Home, Averitt Express and a spec building.

The new park in Effingham will provide direct access to I-95 and the I-16 corridors, as well as CSX rail. The campus will offer multiple built-to-suit options for tenants, ranging from 155,000 to 1.3 million square feet.

The spec warehouses will include a 407,000 square-foot facility with a 36-foot clear-height and a 155,000 square-foot rear-load industrial facility with a 32-foot clear-height.

Ezelle said talks are going on with four different users. He said Amazon would be the type of user that is being sought for the light industrial distribution warehouse space, but it is not one of the four companies in talks at this time. And the manufacturing warehouse space would be attractive to a user such as Georgia Transformers in Rincon.

The property has the proper PD-MU zoning. Ezelle said traffic studies were done when the land went through the development of regional impact process eight or nine years ago and it was determined then that Ga. 21 could handle the traffic.

Ezelle said there’s 0.6 percent of warehouse space available out of 67 million square feet in the market. More than 10 million square feet is under construction and will be done by the second quarter of 2019. Half of that already is leased, he said.

“There’s unprecedented demand and extremely low vacancy rates,” Ezelle said. “The time is right for this project.”

Will Gardner, CEO of Chesterfield, said, “We believe GITC is a real game-changer for the Savannah region and the State of Georgia. GITC is the only park that is on CSX rail, fully entitled with all utilities, less than 10 miles from GPA’s Garden City Terminal on a four-lane state route that also offers four building pads of over 1 million square feet each.”

Brandt Herndon, CEO of the Effingham County Industrial Development Authority, said GITC will not compete with the Savannah Gateway Industrial Hub, which is 2,600 undeveloped acres behind the Lowe’s in Rincon. The Gateway property is aimed more at manufacturing and GITC is aimed more at warehouse space, he said.

Herndon said he spoke at Rotary Thursday and got questions about more development adding more traffic headaches on Ga. 21. He said the Effingham Parkway will alleviate some of the pressure.

And he said the new industrial parks will bring new jobs so more people can live and work in Effingham instead of traveling to Chatham to work.

A groundbreaking is planned for December 2018, followed by the construction of the main spine road and utilities to serve the first two spec buildings.