HAMLET — A proposed industrial site could draw up to three companies to the area, according to a site selection team.
The team — consisting of consulting firm McCallum Sweeney, architectural company Stimmel Associates and Duke Energy — presented its assessment to local leaders with an interest in economic development at the Richmond County Airport Thursday.
The Marks Creek Industrial Park, situated on N.C. 177, is one of 18 sites being evaluated through the Duke Energy Site Readiness program.
Randy Broome, an economic and business development consultant with Duke Energy, said those 18 sites were chosen out of 30 that were submitted.
He said the program, which began in 2005, was started to help areas replace the void left by the diminishing textile and tobacco industries.
Proximity to the CSX railway — on the southeast corner of the site — and to Interstate 74 was named as two of the location’s strongest assets. It’s also within 200 miles of the ports at Wilmington and Charleston, South Carolina.
In addition, the site is already zoned for both light and heavy industrial and is outfitted with electric, natural gas, water, wastewater and telecommunications infrastructure.
One hurdle to overcome for potential developers would be the wetlands along the eastern edge of the property.
Luke Dickey from Stimmel Associates said permitting could slow down the building process.
The only red-light issue in the study was the fact that the land in the park is owned by two entities: Marks Creek Industrial Park and Hewett Properties. According to the study, the city is “in the process of acquiring the Marks Creek parcel.”
In a “buildability” study by Stimmel, the 100-acre site was found to have 79 developable acres. Most of the land has a slope of less than 5 percent, which makes for less work to get the site ready, Dickey said.
The site was split into two developable areas — a 26-acre parcel to the north, and 52-plus-acre section to the south — along a sewer line and abandoned CSX easement.
Conceptual drawings show an 800,000 square-foot building in the southern section, with a stormwater pond, parking lot and room for expansion. There is also a rail spur leading up from the east to the north side of the building.
Dickey said the land on the east side of the building would have to be leveled out for the rail because of a moderate grade in the slope.
Drawings show the northern parcel could hold a 380,000 square-foot building, or two small buildings.
“Our goal in Richmond County economic development is to recruit jobs for our citizens and investment for the county,” said Martie Butler, economic developer for the county. “We do not prefer one industry above another.”
The team recommended three target industries it thought would best be suited for the Marks Creek site, based on the assessment: auto parts manufacturing, metal fabrication and light industrial or assembly. These industries were suggested because of the variety of site sizes at the location and competitive cost of doing business in addition to the rail and electric assets.
“We were very pleased to hear the findings of the study,” Butler said. “Their feedback has given us some vision of how it can best be utilized.”
“There has been no site preparation,” she said. “So we are thrilled a nationally known site selector agreed with us (that) the Marks Creek site has the ability to be a great industrial site.”
Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-817-2675.