Mincey Marble is not only ditching its highly contested plans to build a new plant on Browns Bridge Road, but looking to move its entire operation to an industrial park off Calvary Church Road, miles from its current base.
“Had we not gone through such a lengthy rezoning process, we would have come to our eventual decision much sooner,” Mincey President and CEO Donna Mincey said Thursday.
“In the end, though, I am happy for our opponents and am grateful to those who supported our rezoning efforts. This move should satisfy everyone.”
In a press release issued by the company, Mincey said cost was a primary factor in deciding to move its West Hall operations, including its headquarters at 4321 Browns Bridge Road and a facility off neighboring Hidden Hills Drive.
“Many of her company’s financial projections could not be determined until after the rezoning cleared the way for due diligence,” the release states.
Cost estimates for road improvements, for example, came in substantially higher than expected, Mincey said.
Construction and relocation are expected to be completed by early 2018.
Mincey Marble got the Hall County Board of Commissioners’ rezoning approval on Oct. 13 to build a 100,750-square-foot plant across from current operations, but not without a huge fight from neighboring residents.
Lewis Miller, one of the most vocal opponents of the rezoning, said he “sincerely appreciates Mincey Marble taking into consideration the concerns that the citizens had for an industrial development expansion in a residential area.
“We look forward to preserving this residential-agricultural area in the future and working with the Hall County commissioners in fulfilling what we see as their obligation to do that.
“And we all wish Mincey Marble continued success in their new location.”
Residents, who banded together as the Browns Bridge Road Coalition, vehemently opposed the plant for many reasons, including that it would lower property values and add to congestion on the already busy Browns Bridge Road.
They also complained about styrene odors emitted from the plant and their possible adverse health effects.
One of the overriding concerns was that the new plant simply didn’t fit in a residential neighborhood.
Perhaps ironically, one of the cries early on from residents was that Mincey should just pick up its entire operation and move to an industrial park.
“You’re growing by leaps and bounds. … It may cost you now, but in the long run, you’re going to be the benefactor,” resident Hildegard Diaz said during an Aug. 2 meeting between Mincey and residents at the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus.
At the time, Mincey officials dismissed the idea.
“You’re talking millions and millions of dollars to” move, Mincey told the group.
In a later interview with The Times, she said that relocating operations was not like moving “from one house to another.”
“This is a big operation,” she said. “We’ve been here 40 years. We own all this property, we’re all zoned (properly). We don’t have to do that.”
Another key factor in deciding to move was the securing of major new business contracts in late 2016 — after the rezoning — that “dramatically altered Mincey sales forecasts for the new year and beyond,” a company press release states.
Mincey is moving to a 79-acre site in the Gainesville Business Park on New Harvest Road. The park is next to Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center.
The company plans to build a building between 350,000 and 400,000 square feet, a move that “provides much greater flexibility for future expansion,” the release states.
The building will cost between $15 million and $20 million.
Mincey now has 300 workers “and we’re anticipating adding 50 more,” said Mincey, who announced the move to employees Wednesday.
“They were very excited,” she said, adding that the news was part of an 82nd birthday celebration of the company’s founder, Kenneth Mincey, Donna Mincey’s father.
“He’s so excited,” she said. “He loves to build.”
Also next up for the company is selling the property it leaves behind, with profits funneled to the new development.
As far as marketing the property, “we’ll be talking to real estate agents in the next week or so and get suggestions from professionals,” Mincey said in an interview before the chamber announcement.
“I’m just speculating, but I wouldn’t think you’d see heavy manufacturing in there,” she said. “We have some really nice (lakefront) property below our plant, so some of it may be residential and some, commercial.”
Overall, Mincey said she was thankful to Hall County “for helping us make this (move) happen,” she said.
“From the commissioners to planning department staff and the Greater Hall Chamber (of Commerce), they all worked tirelessly toward a solution that balances the best interests of our company with the Gainesville-Hall community.”
Mincey’s move was announced at the chamber’s board of directors meeting Thursday at the Gainesville Civic Center.
“For Hall County, the good news is that our company and our jobs will stay here at home,” she told the group. “As a lifelong member of this community, that was very important to me.”
Tim Evans, the chamber’s vice president of economic development, said that Mincey’s new location provides an opportunity to consolidate operations into a “more efficient state-of-the-art facility, and expand as needed.”
“From a business growth standpoint, this flexibility is a good thing for jobs and investment in Gainesville-Hall County,” Evans said. “It’s a win-win for Mincey and will have a positive economic development effect on jobs and throughout the business community.”