Gateway Industrial Centre, under development in Hall County, was the focus of much discussion during the Gainesville and Hall County Development Authority meeting Friday morning.
The industrial park got a state designation, but authority members also had to approve additional design and construction expenses of more than $470,000.
The authority is developing the Gateway Industrial Centre in partnership with Hall County, said Tim Evans, vice president of economic development
A letter from Rochester & Associates Inc., a land development consulting firm with a Gainesville office, described additional costs the company incurred during its project work. Roads and sewer infrastructure is currently being installed around the park.
Company executives Brian Rochester and Eric Chini were present for the meeting, but not the vote.
The Hall County Board of Commissioners approved partnering with the city of Lula in February to provide sewer treatment service to Gateway, but the county would install about 5 miles of pipeline from a county-built pump station up Ga. 365 to Ga. 52. The industrial park is 518 acres off Ga. 365, north of White Sulphur Road.
Rochester had to do extra work for Phase I and II of the project, with services including the final plat, an updated survey, lake sediment studies and conducting a traffic study.
Gainesville real estate executive Frank Norton Jr. questioned why the final plat needed additional work.
“What I don’t understand is why we’re paying a change order for a final plat that should have been in our original budget or should have been in Rochester’s numbers, or as built drawings that have been in the original numbers,” Norton said.
“It seems to me that if you’re being given an engineering fee, the final plat should be expected in the normal course of that work.”
Brian Rochester said the costs are outside the contract amount, but inside the original budget.
“Everything is still within the original budget, what was budgeted,” he said. “There were some items in the original approved contract. They were in the budget, not in the original contract that was approved.”
The authority approved the extra charges. Philip Wilheit recused himself from voting, citing a possible conflict.
Gateway was named a market-ready site by Georgia Allies, a public-private partnership focused on economic development marketing. The announcement was part of a marketing strategy approved by the authority.
The marketing plan was more of an outline. Chris Braswell said he was looking for some input. Evans and his statewide relationships will be an important part of the marketing, members said.
The outline touched on targeted marketing, marketing materials, online advertising, onsite signage, events and direct advertising.
The industrial park was named as a Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development in April, Evans said.
“The GRAD certification; there are about 35 major sites statewide,” he said. “Most of those are in the Southern part of the state, South Georgia. There’s very few of those in North Georgia and even fewer that have rail access like this one.”
Evans said if a large project is looking for a lot of acreage on rail, the designation raises the site higher on the search criteria for large projects.
“If a company’s looking for a site with rail of 100 acres, with good highway access within 50 miles of Atlanta, this is the only one that meets that criteria,” he said.
The authority also approved a 2012 financial audit report and the refinancing of Hall County bonds that were used to buy the South Hall water treatment facility.