It is “unbelievable” that Hall County has sold 40 percent of the land in Gateway Industrial Centre within a year of developing the park’s infrastructure, said Tim Evans, vice president for economic development for the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.
In the next breath, Evans notes the sale of the 180 acres to Kubota Manufacturing took the last large industrial site in the county.
Finding and developing industrial land often requires three to five years, and Evans said he expects it to take the county 12 to 15 years to “build out” Gateway Centre.
He said the investment in the park is about $11 million for the equity in the land and $13 million by the Gainesville and Hall County Development Authority. That is about $48,000 per acre.
The site was GRAD certified — Georgia ready for accelerated development — “like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval,” Evans said.
Work on the Kubota plant is well underway. The company is constructing a 500,000-square-foot building on the “front” of its property and is grading the northern part of the tract for a potential expansion of 1.5 million square feet.
The company expects to have about 580 jobs at the Gateway site, Evans said, and should be “amping up their employment in 2017.” The company said it plans to begin production in spring 2017.
It will make its RTV utility vehicles at the plant, which will have a capacity of 50,000 per year.
Evans said the development authority and landowners have a partnership. The property owners put up the property and conveyed title to the development authority. But payment for land occurs when it is sold.
Kubota paid about $5.67 million, $31,500 per acre, for the land. Of that amount, the county received about $1.6 million.
The development authority started working on the Gateway Centre more than three years ago, Evans said, “putting it together, getting all the pieces together.”
Evans said he began talking with Kubota about an expansion about two years before the land was sold.
If the county had not been developing the park, “it would not have had a large enough site” for Kubota, Evans said.
He said the infrastructure was completed six or seven months ago, which he described as “pretty typical.”
The largest site left in the park, Evans said, is about 34 acres. Because of the topography and streams, the site could accommodate about a 250,000-square foot building. He said three other sites could be combined to about 34 acres, and it would accommodate about a 300,000-square-foot building.
Another sizable portion of the park land, about 66 acres, that fronts on White Sulphur Road, is more suited for multifamily residential use, he said. He anticipates selling that property to a developer at some point. That property also is hilly and has streams through it.
He also noted that a proposed residential development, Gateway Village, is east of the industrial park and includes 500 acres for building.
For any development, Evans said, the “most challenging” site is the first one. “You need to convince somebody to be the first one.” The other difficult sale is “the last site,” he said.
“We have to keep ahead of ourselves” with the development of land, Evans said, or “existing industry may not have a place they can grow.”
A previous version of this article included an incorrect total for the amount Hall County received for the land from Kubota.