The cat — or rather, the chicken sandwich — appears to be out of the bag.
News broke late Thursday evening that CFA D2 Services LLC, a subsidiary of Chick-fil-A, had purchased an approximately 50-acre site in Bartow County. At this point, however, the only hard numbers on the project made public is the cost of the transaction — roughly $3.7 million, according to County documents.
Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor said he’s been aware of the fast food juggernaut’s plan — which went under the codename “Operation Spicy “ — for approximately a year.
“They bought the property, so we’re delighted that a company like Chick-fil-A is looking at our community, to come in and make investments and bring jobs,” he said. “Now, as for the total investment and jobs, I’m still under a non-disclosure agreement, so I’m not at liberty to talk about jobs and investment.”
Taylor, however, did confirm that the property purchased by Chick-fil-A is off Cass-White Road, near the western side of Interstate 75.
“It’s 50 acres of raw land that they’re going to build their own building on,” Taylor said. “It was purchased from the Pattillo development, and they are moving forward.”
Taylor’s description appears to put the development within Pattillo Industrial Real Estate’s Cartersville Business Park, a 188-acre, pentagonally shaped property that’s already home to a 592,800-square-foot Zep distribution center and a roughly 80,000-square-foot Asta Door Corp. facility.
The property also includes a 265,000-square foot speculative building, which is currently on the market.
Bartow County Board of Assessors data still lists Pattillo as the owner of both 50 acres of land directly across the road from the spec building, as well as a little under 20 acres between it and the Zep facility.
Documents from Pattillo indicate plans for proposed buildings at each of those undeveloped sites. Suggested for the 50-acre site would be a 200,000-square-foot building, with an “expansion area” of equal square footage.
“From what I understand, they are in conversations with Pattillo about one of their spec buildings,” Taylor said. “So I’m not sure what that’s about, it may be premature to talk about that.”
Ben Stafford, a vice president of new investments for Pattillo, had very little to tell The Daily Tribune News about the proposed development.
“I will have to defer to the no-comment,” he said. “That is Chick-fil-A’s story to tell, as a valued client of ours … if they want to talk about it, they can, but that’s all I can really say.”
While Cartersville Business Park documents indicate the property is suited for manufacturing, warehousing and distribution use, representatives of Chick-fil-A aren’t quite ready to spill the beans — or in this case, the waffle fries — on how the recently purchased property will be utilized.
“We don’t have any details to provide at this stage on this,” The Daily Tribune was told by Sean M. Ward, a Jackson Spalding public relations specialist who serves as a “regional coach” for Chick-fil-A.
Nor could Taylor legally comment on what exactly Chick-fil-A’s plans for the property may be.
“My hands are tied as far as I can talk, right now,” he said. “I really can’t talk about that particular process and what they’re going to use it for.”
The same holds true for economic impact projections — i.e., how many people the Chick-fil-A development may employ, or how much money the company may be investing in the local community to get the development, whatever it may be, constructed.
“The real metrics and numbers should come from the company themselves,” Taylor said, “when they get comfortable with releasing that information.”
Naturally, Taylor said it’s far too early to discuss any abatements or incentives for any proposed Chick-fil-A developments within the County.
What Taylor could divulge, however, is that both he and Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development Executive Director Melinda Lemmon have traveled to Atlanta to speak with both the Georgia Department of Economic Development as well as Chick-fil-A officials.
“That’s about as far as I can say, as far as anything that would not violate my non-disclosure agreement," he said.
Lemmon likewise remained mum on the details.
“We are aware of a private real estate transaction that has made news, and have been encouraged by the transaction,” she said. “Public speculation on our part about what any company may or may not do is inappropriate. We never want to disrespect any decision-makers or their processes by such speculation.”
The Georgia Department of Economic Development had little to say, as well, as a representative told The Daily Tribune News that it is departmental policy is to “not comment on active projects.”
While Taylor couldn’t reveal what Chick-fil-A’s business plans in the area may be, he was more than happy to throw out a few factors he believes drew the company — which generated $10 billion in revenue last year — to Bartow.
“Of course, the big attraction to all that area is the location,” he said. “We’ve got low taxes and great infrastructure already in place. And it’s really close to Atlanta, so we are the sweet spot in industrial development right now, in north Georgia and all of Georgia, as a matter of fact.”
Taylor may have had to walk on egg shells — or, perhaps, egg white grills — while discussing the development publicly, but he remains adamant about one thing pertaining to the proposed project.
“If this company does fully invest in Bartow County,” he said, “it will be fantastic for the community.”