The Caterpillar facility now under construction on the Atlanta Highway will consist of a 815,851 square-foot set of buildings providing warehouse, assembly, fabrication and office space, according to the overall site layout plans submitted to the Oconee County Code Enforcement Office.
The facility is more than 300,000 square feet smaller than was proposed in preliminary plans submitted to the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission in late February. Oconee County Economic Development Director Rusty Haygood told me on Wednesday he did not believe the change was significant.
Haygood, who has been credited with being instrumental in bringing Caterpillar to the area, said Caterpillar decreased the size of the building to stay within its budget on the project.
“There is no scaling back,” Haygood said.
|Atlanta Highway, 4/21/2012|
Plans Still Tentative
The site layout plans even now are very tentative, according to Russ Henson, building inspector in Oconee County.
Henson said he asked Caterpillar to provide him the plans, which are undated and which have not been reviewed officially, so he can better understand the foundation plans, which are under review in his office.
According to the Intergovernmental Agreement that the Oconee County Board of Commissioners will consider on its consent agenda at its meeting on Tuesday evenng, Oconee County will have responsibility for Building Code review of site plans.
Kentucky Companies Involved
Gray Construction and GNF Architects and Engineers, both of Lexington, Ky., submitted the plans that Henson is reviewing.
The plans show three interconnected, 30-foot high buildings: one for fabrication, one for assembly and warehousing and one for offices.
The first two buildings are separated by a concrete slab with a canopy cover, and both are connected by the office building.
The plans divide the space in the buildings into four types: 565,897 square feet across two buildings for assembly and fabrication, 209,954 square feet in the largest of the three buildings for storage, 34,900 square feet for office space in the main office building and in areas of the other two, and 5,100 square feet for worker assembly areas, such as the cafeteria.
The buildings staddle the Oconee-Clarke county line, but the vast majority of the facility is in Oconee County.
The buildings are on a 265-acre parcel of land cut from the large Orkin tract, which is north of SR 316, west of U.S. 78, south of the Atlanta Highway, and mostly east of and including parts of Bogart.
Separate from the buildings is a small distribution center. The space for that is not indicated in the plans submitted to Henson, but in the NEGRC documents it was listed as 14,847 square-feet.
Distribution Center Acreage Shown
The total acreage for the distribution center, including the building and the parking area, designated on the maps submitted to Oconee County, is four acres.
The distribution center is separated from the three main buildings by 17.5 acres of designated storage areas for the manufactured equipment. Most of that is shown as paved with gravel.
While public discussions have called the Caterpillar facility a manufacturing and distribution center, the distribution center will handle only small parts, such as radios and lights, according to Haygood, and is not a major part of the operation.
That distribution center building, however, sits close to and is likely to be most visible to traffic on Atlanta Highway.
The plan shows an employee entrance to that distribution center off Atlanta Highway and a second entrance off another road that will serve as the main entrance to the plant.
Dozer and Orkin Drives
The plant will be served by two roads, one called Dozer Drive on the map in Henson’s office and the other labeled Orkin Drive.
Dozer Drive will run off Atlanta Highway and will parallel the plant along its east side.
Orkin Drive will run off U.S. 78 and will parallel Atlanta Highway.
A 520-space employee parking lot will be connected to Dozer Drive.
The map shows 142 trailer parking spaces on the Bogart, or west, side of the plant,
The map does not show any rail connection, though CSX tracks are just across Atlanta Highway on the north of the site.
Haygood told me that in his discussions with Caterpillar “They said rail was not a requirement” but they wanted to know about its availability nonetheless.
Putting a spur across Atlanta highway could be complex and expensive, he said, and an alternative would be to transfer the equipment manufactured at the plant by truck to a loading facility on the other side of the highway.
CSX Serves Brunswick
CSX connects to the ports at Brunswick and Charleston, but not to the port at Savannah, which is served by Norfolk Southern, according to maps Haygood showed me.
According to Henson, grading on the site was underway last week. This is not visible from Atlanta Highway, where the only indication of the plant has been a sign from Gray Construction.
In the Feb. 17 news release from Caterpillar, the plant was listed as a “state-of-the-art, one-million-square-foot-facility” that would employ 1,400 people once it is fully operational.
1,100 by 2032
Total investment was listed at $200 million.
The Memorandum of Understanding signed by Oconee and Clarke counties and Caterpillar uses the same size description for the facility.
It specifies that Caterpillar must employ 1,100 people by 2032. The agreement calls for modest penalties for not meeting investment and hiring goals during the 20-year period ending in 2032.
Oconee and Clarke counties will own the land, the plant and the equipment, all of which will be leased back to Caterpillar. Caterpillar will pay taxes on the lease, but not the property, at a reduced rate for up to 30 years.
The site of the plant is constrained by the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Corporation underground line on its eastern end and wetlands at the head of McNutt Creek on the south and west.
The gas pipeline runs roughly parallel to and west of U.S. 78 through Oconee County.
Both Dozer Drive and Orkin Drive will cross wetlands, but the plant itself does not disturb wetlands south and east of it, according to the map in the Oconee County Code Enforcement Office.