State officials are hoping to close by the end of this month on northeast Hall County property that will be the home of the new Georgia Poultry Laboratory Network headquarters.
As part of an agreement last year, the Gainesville-Hall County Development Authority is required to prepare the site for construction before the state will close on the property, said Paul L. Melvin, spokesman for the State Properties Commission.
The commission, led by Gov. Nathan Deal, voted in August to buy 10 acres in the future Gateway Industrial Centre off Ga. 365, spending $69,000 per acre.
The new building, expected to be complete by 2015, will be the first development on a 518-acre tract that is planned to be a new industrial park in Hall County. The property is expected to be developed over the next 10 to 12 years through a partnership between the county government and property owners.
For its part, Hall County will have to finish roads, build water lines to the property and extend sewer lines to the park.
A new poultry lab has been in the works for years.
At one point, the state seemed to have settled on putting the new building at the same site as the current, largely condemned headquarters near downtown Oakwood, then tearing down the old structure.
But then, officials decided against building on the 50-year-old site off Oakwood Road, partly because “the nature of the surrounding area has turned residential and is not appropriate for the construction of a new poultry lab,” Melvin has said.
Officials have said they believe the lab will serve as a more central location for area farmers.
In an earlier interview, Mike Giles, president of the Gainesville-based Georgia Poultry Federation, said, “Poultry production is really focused in that area. It’s just east of Gainesville — that’s where the samples come from, just generally from that part of the state.”
The new lab also will serve as a sort of showplace for the lab’s many visitors, including international groups, officials said.
The design for the building has been completed and the state is issuing a contract with Oklahoma-based Manhattan Construction, the lowest bidder on the project, Melvin said last week.
“So, once the site is construction ready, we will close and begin the work,” he said.
Construction will cost $9.5 million. The original budget for the project was $11.2 million.
Area poultry officials have said they eagerly await the project’s completion.
Louise Dufour-Zavala, executive director of the GPLN, said Georgia Poultry Laboratory Network “is essential” to the poultry industry in such roles as health monitoring, testing and compliance, disease diagnosis and export certification.
“The current facility is aged and although we can still provide high volumes of quality testing in the current facility, modern testing processes require an updated facility urgently,” she said.