ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County has entered the planning and permitting process for a new shell building to be used by a business or industry looking for office space, Economic Developer Martie Butler said at the monthly county commissioners meeting on Tuesday.
Shell buildings are empty offices that, once purchased by a company, can be easily modified to fit their needs and are considered a major incentive to invest in the area, according to Butler.
Richmond County Board of Commissioners Chairman Ken Robinette said that the board has been pressing for a new shell building, which will be the fifth in the county.
“The bottom line is you can’t sell from an empty wagon,” he said. “Most industries that come here, they’re looking for a building, not just land.”
The buildings are all very similar in layout and size at around 40,000 square feet with the ability to be doubled or tripled in space depending on the company’s need. Butler said that there are no firm dates on when the new building will begin construction but she hopes there will be movement on that front next year.
The project has not been submitted for bids.
There are four companies currently working out of shell buildings in the county: General Glass, CAI Ink, Viking Pools and Piedmont Natural Gas, the latter being the most recent sale in 2013.
The shell buildings are located in the Rockingham West Industrial Park where Pee Dee Electric offers lucrative incentives for the county. They offer a zero interest loan that the county doesn’t have to make payments on for several years, allowing time to find prospective buyers and lease out if needed, according to Robinette.
“It’s low risk, high return — hardly any risk,” he said.
Richmond County has had some of the most successful shell buildings in the state, according to Robinette.
Commissioner Thad Ussery, who was on the board when the county began the shell building program 20 years ago, said the county hasn’t been pushing for more shell buildings like it used to but that “it’s good we’re getting back into it.”
“I’m sure that it’s going to help bring traffic to Richmond County and eventually someone will want that building,” he said.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674.