If you build it, they will come.
When Gainesville and Hall County government officials and business leaders broke ground on the future Gainesville Business Park on Friday, they seemed to hold on to this tenet: If the area wants job growth at the end of the recession, it must have the infrastructure in place to support it.
“We’ve had a lot of groundbreakings over the years for industrial parks, but I think this is one of the most important times in our history to be doing this,” said Russell Vandiver, the chairman of the Gainesville-Hall County Economic Development Council. “With the economy and the situations that we’ve had, I feel like ... this is a really critical time for us to prepare for when this economy turns around and have a product to show.”
The 175-acre business park, located between Calvary Church and New Harvest roads, is the first new industrial park built in Gainesville in more than a decade.
Local officials and business leaders gathered at the site of the future park to celebrate its construction Friday.
The city owns 145 acres of the future industrial site, and the county owns the rest. The two governments will foot the loan repayments — and split the profits from the sale of the property — based on their prorated share of the property.
Mayor Myrtle Figueras praised city and county officials Friday for working together to make the park a reality. Relations between the two government entities have lately been contentious, with the most recent tension due to the county’s objection of a city proposal to annex unincorporated county islands lying on major entrances into the city.
“That’s what I like about the Gainesville City Council. You can never ever do anything by yourself,” Figueras said. “But Gainesville City Council is always looking for partners to help. You can rest assured that when it comes to real business, that Gainesville and Hall County are always together to make sure that we see what is important for our community.”
Government officials and business leaders alike began seeking out sites for a new industrial park in Gainesville earlier this decade when Gainesville began to run out of available industrial space, said Tim Evans, vice president of economic development for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.
“We have buildings available in some size ranges,” Evans said. “We’ve got smaller buildings available throughout Gainesville — up to 30,000, 40,000 square feet. We’ve got a few larger buildings that are available — 150,000 square feet. We’re missing some product in between, so we’ve got some places, some parts of our community where, in terms of available industrial buildings, we don’t have enough inventory.”
Much of the site was originally purchased by the city’s Public Utilities Department as a spray field for treated wastewater. The property was never used as such, however, and last February it was rezoned to make room for the industrial park.
With it, the city and county hope to attract light manufacturing industries, technology firms, data centers and businesses connected to the life sciences, said Evans.
Sites in the park will range from 7 to 85 acres and the first, speculative building on the site should be complete by mid-2010, Evans said.
“That spec building is actually going to fill a need that we have in that 50,000 to 100,000 square foot available building (space) for industrial users,” Evans said.
Pattillo Construction will purchase individual sites from the Economic Development Council and build individual buildings on a schedule at their expense and keep an available speculative building on the site at all times, Evans said.
Gainesville Business Park is the third industrial park Pattillo has been involved in, said Larry Callahan, CEO of Pattillo Construction.