With thousands of acres ripe for development, a new frontier of Hall County may open up with a massive sewer project that’s now under construction.
Long-awaited sewer lines alongside Ga. 365 in northeastern Hall “will be a game changer when the (project) is completed and as things fill in,” said Brent Hoffman, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway in Gainesville.
Ken Rearden, Hall’s public works and utilities director, had a captive audience when he spoke to commercial real estate brokers on the subject at a Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce meeting last week.
“There were 65 people in attendance, and they were very, very interested,” he said.
The project’s completion “is really not (so much) that the area is going to develop, because I think it’s going to develop one way or another,” Tim Evans, the chamber’s vice president of economic development.
It’s more about the type of development that may occur there.
“What sewer encourages is that the development that happens will be a better quality,” Evans said. “You don’t put a $100 million capital investment on septic.”
North Hall Commissioner Scott Gibbs said, “It’s such a natural place to be as far as commercial development. (Ga. 365) is such a transportation artery for the county.”
The sewer project, set for a Jan. 31 completion, calls for extending lines from near Gateway Industrial Centre north of White Sulphur Road to Ga. 52 near Lula. The project will require construction of a couple of pump stations — projects that could go out for bids in June, Rearden said.
The sewer line project costs about $2.4 million, funded by the county’s special purpose local option sales tax revenue.
“The contractor is putting three crews on this, so he says (completion could be in) six months,” Rearden said.
Development already is occurring along the stretch, particularly at Gateway, where Kubota Manufacturing of America Corp. began operations earlier this year at a 502,000-square-foot building on 180 acres.
On April 10, the company showed off the utility vehicle manufacturing facility in a ceremony featuring state and local dignitaries, as well as Masatoshi Kimata, president and representative director of the Kubota Group.
“I’m very excited about what that may bring for the future,” Evans said at the time. “This was a huge commitment on (Kubota’s) part.”
Phil Sutton, the plant’s chief administrative officer, has said that although there no immediate growth plans, “we have the capacity to do that on that site.”
Another company, Tatsumi Intermodal USA, announced last fall it was expanding its operations with a new 112,000-square-foot logistics facility at the 500-acre industrial park.
Also planned in the area is a 476-acre multiuse development, Gateway Village, across the road from Gateway Industrial.
Los Angeles-based real estate firm CBRE is marketing Gateway Village “as a highly amenitized, pedestrian-oriented community that will personify and support the already regional serving economies of the Gainesville and Hall County area,” its website states.
“This project is viewed as a critical complement to the Gateway Industrial Center, as it will provide much-needed services (restaurants, shopping, etc.) and housing to support the increase in jobs and visitors to the area.”
Rearden expects the new sewer lines a planned commercial development, including a truck stop, off Ga. 365 and Ga. 52.
Plans call for rebuilding and expanding a travel center at the site and adding two restaurants, including the 4,000-square-foot Bojangles’ fast-food chicken eatery. The project also would include a truck fueling center and 44,500 square feet in retail space.
The Ga. 52-Ga. 365 intersection is somewhat developed already, but it’s surrounded by large plots of undeveloped land.
In 2008, a multiuse development involving 1,135 acres along Ga. 365 and Ga. 52 was approved by the Hall County Board of Commissioners. Plans, which include 2,054 homes, retail and office space, haven’t materialized, but the potential remains. The county’s comprehensive plan “identifies the area around the intersection ... as a regional retail node,” a Hall County planning department report states.
The regional commercial zone could have up to 1 million square feet of buildings and sites covering 100-plus acres.
The truck stop/Bojangles’ project did scratch at some old wounds involving Lula, which operates a sewer plant and has its own service delivery area.
City Manager Dennis Bergin opposed the rezoning in October that cleared the way for the development, telling the Hall County Board of Commissioners that Lula has a sewer line within 3,300 feet of the site.
“Good government would suggest that the opportunity (for sewer) is there and (that) the city is willing and able to provide the capacity,” he said.
In a phone interview last week, Bergin continued to push Lula’s place in the area’s sewer development.
“Lula has made and continues to make a large investment in designing and applying infrastructure on Ga. 365,” he said.