Atlanta's Transwestern Development Co. has filed a development of regional impact (DRI) application with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) for a major project along Peeples Valley Road.
According to the application filed with the DCA on Sept. 18, the proposed Bartow Transwestern Industrial Park would consist of four buildings totaling 953,000 square feet. The developer estimates the value of the project at full buildout to be $70 million, with a projected completion date of December 2024.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had a project of Transwestern’s in our community, so it was good to hear from them again,” said Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development Executive Director Melinda Lemmon. “The fact that they have the land there and the market demand on the I-75 corridor has finally pushed them to make the decision to develop the site.”
According to Bartow County Zoning Administrator Richard Osborne, the total industrial park development is planned to span about 120 acres.
“The rest of it was already zoned industrial,” Bartow County Administrator Peter Olson said. “They have had that area zoned for industrial for a long time.”
The DRI application indicates the project would be a "wholesale and distribution" development.
Neither Lemmon or Olson said they had any details on potential tenants or end users for the proposed industrial park.
“Logistics seems to be a lot of what’s looking right now,” Olson said. “With the growth of online retail, driven a lot by the pandemic just changing culture, there’s a nationwide need for a billion square feet of logistics warehouses … that’s a lot of 3,000- and 4,000-square-foot warehouses needed.”
Lemmon said the buildings are likely to be speculative, with no particular tenant in mind concerning the design of the facilities.
“The market demand has been, particularly, in logistics and advanced manufacturing,” she said. “We’re hopeful that some of the projects that we’re seeing in the manufacturing sector may be a good fit as tenants.”
Lemmon also said she doesn’t anticipate any incentives being in place for the construction of the buildings.
“We’re not really looking to incentivize logistics, I think we’re going to wind that sort of notion down because they’re coming anyway,” Olson said. “Logistics jobs, often there’s not a high density of jobs, they’re on the lower-end of the pay scale — strategically, I think we’re going to focus our efforts to more recruiting manufacturing, we don’t want to get 100% covered up in just warehouses and trucks.”
While the DRI lists a projected completion date four years from now, Lemmon said her department hasn’t had any significant discussions with the developer about the project’s timeline. Still, she said knowing the buildings won’t be coming online for several years works in favor of the department, particular when it comes to community planning.
Olson, however, said he wouldn’t be surprised if the developer reaches full buildout even earlier than that.
“I’ve been impressed at how fast Foxfield has been flipping its properties there around Anheuser-Busch,” he said. “Panattoni bought a couple and a couple of projects are already going on with Panattoni, IDI’s on the east side, they’re already grading out, Hines is on the north side, they’re fixing to get started — there’s just a whole lot arriving at once."
Lemmon noted that the project would be in fairly close proximity to the Rome-Cartersville Development Corridor, which would create a new interchange in the vicinity.
That major transportation project, Olson said, would create access to Interstate 75 both to the north and south of the proposed development.
Coinciding with the Transwestern development, Olson added, would be significant upgrades to the infrastructure along Keith Road.
“That’s been needed for a long time, that gets real narrow in places, so we’re woking on that,” he said. “And we’re working on a grant to fund some of that, a U.S. Economic Development Agency grant, since we can tie it to these jobs that will be coming.”
As for citizen blowback, Olson said he’s heard some displeasure over the proposal from residents along Peeples Valley Road.
“There was a little bit of opposition to that one rezoning, but I think the planning commission tried to address that with some buffer and fencing issues to protect them,” he said.
The DRI application projects the development generating 877 vehicular trips during peak hours, with an average of 4,272 vehicular trips estimated per day.
Olson noted that several transportation projects are lined up to help ease congestion along the nearby Cass-White corridor.
“We’ve got a project about to get under construction to put a turn lane, a slip lane, where if you’re going northbound on Peeples Valley you’ll be able to just kind of slip right into the lane and southbound onto the interstate,” he said. “We’ve heard complaints about how that intersection can back up in the morning, especially if somebody’s waiting up there to turn left.”
Olson also said that two roundabouts are expected to go into construction near the I-75 bridge this fiscal year.
“I haven’t heard a more specific month, and you know how these federally-funded projects can always slip,” he said. “But we’re hopeful that we can get that underway soon, and that should really help with the traffic flow through over the highway.”
As for the potential economic impact of the project on Bartow County, Lemmon said more details on the end users is needed before she can make any estimates.
“I suppose some experts might tell you that for every square foot of industrial space there’s so many jobs to be created,” she said. “I really don’t have any prognostications in that regard.”
Although the DRI application doesn’t list any job creation estimates, the document does predict the development generating $700,000 annually in tax revenue.
“It would be at least a couple hundred jobs coming off those buildings once they get filled,” Olson said. “And potentially several hundred — but we’ll just have to see who the users are.”
While other communities throughout the country continue to struggle through the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, Olson said Bartow’s economy is faring quite well.
“The hotels are are still down somewhat, LakePoint’s still down somewhat, but everybody’s getting ramped back up as people get comfortable with travel,” he said. “The rest of our economy seems to be rocking along.”