The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority, in a called meeting on Thursday morning, approved the sale of just under 25 acres from the eastern tract of the Gateway Technology and Business Park to Taylors Iron Company of Watkinsville.
Taylor’s Iron Company currently is located at 1081 Industrial Drive in the Watkinsville Industrial Park and will use the Gateway location as a new site of operations.
Rodwood Investments will pay the Industrial Development Authority $497,714 for the parcel, which fronts on Aiken Road and lies mostly in the city of Bogart. It is north of SR 316.
The IDA agreed to spend $150,000 of the purchase price to extend Gateway East Parkway to provide access to the property off McNutt Creek Road. The roadway also will provide access to a roughly 15-acre unsold parcel in the eastern tract of Gateway Technology and Business Park.
At the called meeting on Tuesday, the Authority also approved paperwork for the refinancing of the $10.38 million bond the IDA issued in 2012 for infrastructure improvements to entice Caterpillar to locate a plant on the Oconee County and Clarke County border at the edge of Bogart.
That refinancing is expected to save the county $676,000, according to County Finance Director Wes Geddings.
Special Meeting Arrangments
The Industrial Development Authority, which usually meets at the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce on Nancy Drive in Watkinsville, met instead on Thursday in the Commission Chamber at the Courthouse.
The meeting was closed to the public because of the COVID-19 outbreak but was live streamed.
Michael Prochaska, editor of The Oconee Enterprise, and a representative of this blog were invited to attend. Sarah Bell did attend.
The Industrial Development Authority was created in 1962 and is part of the Georgia Constitution.
The Authority consists of five members: Courtney Bernardi, president of the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce, John Daniell, Oconee County Board of Commissioners chair, Brock Toole, Bob Smith, mayor of Watkinsville, and Rick Waller.
Bernardi, Daniell and Smith are ex-officio members of the Authority, and Waller and Toole are appointed by the Board of Commissioners.
The Authority also has six members designated as Associates, all appointed by the Board of Commissioners.
Only the five Constitutional members attended the meeting on Thursday.
Plans For Tract
Taylors Iron Company is a producer of miscellaneous metal products, according to its web site.
Taylors has four plants in Georgia and produces fabricated steel at its approximately 71,000-square-foot facility in Watkinsville, according to the web site.
Haygood said in an email message to me on Thursday afternoon that the Gateway purchase “is an additional location. We are told they don’t plan to move” from the Watkinsville site.
The Georgia Secretary of State Corporate database lists Patrick Joe Rodrigue Jr. of Athens as CEO of Taylors. That database lists Rick Rodrigue of the same Athens address as one of the organizers of Rodwood Investments LLC.
Haygood told the Authority that Rodwood Investments already has signed the purchase contract.
Authority Chair Waller said about 6 acres of the 25-acre parcel is wetlands and unbuildable.
A rough diagram of the property that Haygood provided me shows all of the facilities located on the northern part of the tract with the part closest to SR 316 undisturbed.
At a meeting on Feb. 10, the Industrial Development Authority went into executive session to discuss the possible sale of the Gateway East tract.
Following the 30 minute executive session, the Authority came back into open session to vote to transfer to the county an easement that would allow the county to extend sewer services to the parcel.
Until the vote by the Development Authority to approve the contract on Thursday, Alexion Pharma had been the only purchaser of property in Gateway.
Alexion Pharma of New Haven, Conn., purchased 11 acres in the eastern parcel of the business park in late 2016 for a pharmaceutical production and research operation.
That property is served by the existing Gateway East Parkway that will be extended as part of the agreement with Rodwood Investments
The county provides sewer services to Alexion Pharma, and the easement granted to the county at the February meeting is for an extension of the sewer line that serves Alexion Pharma to the Taylors Iron Company property.
History of Property
The Authority has owned the roughly 120 acres that make up the business park since 2000. (The total acreage is listed differently in different places in county records.)
The property is split into four noncontiguous parcels, two small ones south of SR 316 and two large ones north of the highway.
The two larger tracts are separated by a 29-acre parcel owned by Andersen-Wells II LLC of Watkinsville that the Authority has tried, without success, to purchase. William L Ulm Sr. is the registered agent.
The land owned by the Authority originally was purchased for an interchange that the Georgia Department of Transportation did not build.
According to the agreement signed with the original owners of the property when it was purchased by the county, Haygood said at Thursday’s meeting, the Industrial Development Authority will split any profit from the sale of the land with that owner.
The video below is of the Industrial Development Authority meeting.
Bell recorded the video.
Discussion of the bond refinancing begins at 0:56 in the video.
Discussion of the sale of the Gateway property begins at 7:21 in the video.