Alexion Pharma of New Haven, Conn., has decided not to expand its operation at the Gateway Technology Business Park on the edge of Bogart, dealing a setback to efforts of the Oconee County Industrial Development Authority to develop the business park.
Rick Waller, chair of the IDA, announced the decision of Alexion as an afterthought following his Chair Report to the IDA last week.
Alexion had signed a purchase agreement with the Industrial Development Authority on Dec. 19 of last year, after the IDA, in two closed-door sessions, debated details of the contract.
On March 17, Alexion informed the IDA that it intended to exercise a clause of the contract that allowed it to terminate the agreement within 90 days of its signing “for any reason or no reason.”
The decision by Alexion not to go through with the purchase of the 38 acres leaves the IDA with roughly 112 unsold acres spread across the four unconnected parcels that make up the Gateway Technology and Business Park.
Alexion purchased 11 acres adjoining those 38 acres in the eastern parcel in late 2016 for a pharmaceutical production and research operation.
The eastern parcel is bounded by SR 316, McNutt Creek Road, and Aiken Road.
The western parcel is bounded by SR 316, Pete Dickens Road, and Aiken Road.
The two parcels are separated by acreage not owned by the IDA.
The remaining two parcels that make up Gateway are south of SR 316.
The IDA has owned the land since 2000, and the Alexion purchase of the 11 acres represents the only successful sale of land from the park by the IDA.
In an email message of March 29, Elliot Kaiman, from the Wiggin and Dana law firm in New Haven, informed County Attorney Daniel Haygood that “Alexion has determined that the current operations in Bogart are sufficient to support the needs of its business at this time.”
Kaiman told Haygood that “Alexion will continue to assess its business needs to determine if future expansions are needed.”
At the meeting on April 10, Waller, as part of his chair report, mentioned that he was looking at land sales to try to determine the value of property in the Gateway park.
He then moved on the next agenda item, a report by county Economic Development Director J.R. Charles.
Nearly five minutes later, Waller said “I omitted one thing from the chairman’s report.”
Waller said that “It is regretful that Alexion has decided to withdraw from our agreement and our contract.”
“We’ll move forward and find another opportunity for that property,” he added, saying the IDA now has a chance to make more money on the sale.
The contract the IDA sent to Alexion agreed to sell the property for $20,000 an acre, with the exact acreage to be purchased based on the actual acreage shown in a new survey of the property minus areas determined by Alexion to be wetlands.
Waller said at the January IDA meeting that the original amount the IDA sought for the property was $25,000 per acre but the IDA moved to the lower price when Alexion agreed to purchase all of the property.
Other IDA Action
At the meeting on April 10, the IDA agreed to a general services agreement with Williams and Associates, an engineering and planning firm with offices at 2470 Daniells Bridge Road, for 8 hours monthly of services at no cost to the IDA.
The IDA would pay Williams and Associates at its standard rate for any services beyond the 8 hours.
The hours would not roll over month-to-month.
IDA member and realtor Linda Carol Porterfield, in her member report, said the county only has 240 active home listings in the county at present.
“I know we keep talking about we’ve got way too many houses and too many people moving to the county,” Porterfield said.
"We don’t have that many people moving in. We don’t have that many houses being built or put on the market,” she said. “For realtors, it is an issue.”
The video below includes the entire April 10 meeting of the IDA, held at the offices of the Chamber of Commerce in Watkinsville.
It and other videos of IDA meetings are available on the IDA Channel of the Oconee County Observations Vimeo Site.
Waller’s comments on the Alexion decision not to go forward with the purchase of the 38 acres is at 22:30 in the video.