Sunday, August 27, 2023

Oconee County Industrial Development Authority Agrees To Sell Last Usable Parcel In Gateway Technology And Business Park

***IMI To Leave Watkinsville Industrial Park***

The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority on Wednesday agreed to sell the 52.8 acre western most parcel in Gateway Technology and Business Park to IMI Industrial Services Group, which plans to relocate to the new site from the Watkinsville Industrial Park.

The contract sets the sale price at $37,500 per acre, which, based on the existing survey, would total to $1,981,012.

The large, currently empty parcel, is the last accessible acreage in the Gateway Technology Business Park, which runs west, mostly north of SR 316, from McNutt Creek Road on the southwest side of Bogart.

According to County Attorney Daniel Haygood, IMI, which owns several parcels in the Watkinsville Industrial Park, has outgrown that location and will move its corporate headquarters as well as all of its manufacturing operations to the new site.

IMI, a 30-year-old company founded in Watkinsville, is an industrial contractor for multiple major craft trades, including machining and fabrication.

Don Phillips, owner of IMI, is a former member of the Oconee County Industrial Development Authority.

As a coincidence, the Oconee County Planning Commission on Monday night recommended approval of a rezone request by the owner of the 29.4 acre parcel just east of the future IMI acreage.

Anderson-Wells II LLC is seeking to rezone part of the parcel on which it is storing trailers used for emergency housing, a use currently prohibited by the existing R-1 (Single-Family Residential) and AG (Agricultural) zoning.

IDA Action

The Industrial Development Authority approved unanimously on Wednesday morning the sale of the 52.8 acres in the Gateway Technology and Business Park to Industrial Properties Management LLC, which is the property holding company of IMI.

IMI Corporate Office In Building To Left Of Sign

The Authority also authorized Authority Chair Brock Toole and Authority Secretary Courtney Bernardi to sign the documents for the sale.

The contract states that IMI plans to construct “its main facilities” on the property and to put up $99,056 in earnest money in advance of completing the transaction.

The contract stipulates that the county will assist “in securing accelerated planning review and permitting from the Town of Bogart and Oconee County for IMI.

Only a small eastern part of the parcel is within the boundaries of the City of Bogart, with the remainder in the county.

The county also agreed to make available to IMI “any appropriate conduit bond financing including, without limitation, industrial revenue bonds.” IMI would be required “to pay any normal fees associated with such financing.”

The county also agreed in the contract to “provide any necessary upgrade to the water infrastructure” to the property and “any resurfacing of road infrastructure reasonably necessary to serve the Property for the Facilities.”

County Attorney Haygood told me in an email on Wednesday that provision of water to the property “will require a short extension of existing lines.”

Haygood said that IMI does not need sanitary sewer, which is not available on the site, “as their needs can be met by a on-site system.”

IMI Plans

According to Haygood, IMI will move its entire operation from the Watkinsville Industrial Park to Gateway.

“They have outrun their spot in Watkinsville,” he said. “They just need more room.”

“They are going to build their corporate headquarters and their various assemblage buildings they have on that site.”

I spoke with Haygood by telephone after the meeting, which I was not able to attend.

According to video on the IMI web site, the IMI corporate offices are in the building facing SR 15 (Greensboro Highway) at Industrial Boulevard.

That building also houses a machine shop, and a main shop, according to the video.

IMI does machining and fabrication, structural steel fabrication, blasting and painting, and piping and modular fabrication, as well as other types of manufacturing, the web site states.

IMI has a safety and training facility and a Pipe Fabrication and Segregated Stainless Fabrication facility in the Industrial Park.

According to county tax records, Industrial Properties Management LLC owns three parcels in the Watkinsville Industrial Park, of 5.24 acres, 1.67 acres, and 2.72 acres.

Impact Of Move

Haygood said that the move by IMI “will open up some other opportunities in the (Watkinsville) Industrial Park for other people to expand.”

IMI Pipe Fabrication And Segregated
Stainless Fabrication Facility

“The Industrial Park is full,” Haygood said.

Intertwined with the properties of IMI’s Industrial Properties Management LLC are properties occupied by Taylors Iron Co. Inc.

Some of those properties are listed as owned by ROICO LLC, whose agent is Patrick Rodrigue, by Rodrigue Properties LLC, whose agent also is Patrick Rodrigue, and by Rodwood Investments LLC, with Rick Rodrigue as the organizer.

Rick Rodrigue is the president of Taylors Iron Company.

In 2020, the Industrial Development Authority sold just under 25 acres in the Gateway Technology and Business Park to Rodwood Investments LLC for $497,714.

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.

Rodwood subsequently purchased an additional 11.5 adjoining acres from the Industrial Development Authority for $404,720, according to county property records.

Watkinsville Industrial Park

Haygood said at the time that Taylors purchased the property at Gateway that Taylors did not intend to move from Watkinsville but rather use the Gateway site for an additional facility. Taylor produces miscellaneous metal products at four plants in Georgia.

The two properties Taylors bought at Gateway remain undeveloped, and Haygood said he expects they will be sold now that additional land will be available in the Watkinsville Industrial Park.

In addition to Toole and Bernardi, Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell, Watkinsville Mayor Brian Brodrick, and Member Rick Waller were in attendance at the IDA meeting on Wednesday. Also in attendance were nonvoting members County Attorney Haygood and County Clerk Holly Stephenson.

“They needed more space to grow,” Brodrick said of IMI in a conversation with Michael Prochaska, editor of The Oconee Enterprise, after the meeting. “I wish we had room for it in Watkinsville.”

“We are going to miss IMI,” he continued. “I’m always proud when a business grows.”

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners in July agreed to sell the Government Annex, which abuts the IMI property facing SR 15 now housing it headquarters, to Darron Britt for $1,857,000.

Phillips served on the Industrial Development Authority through at least 2019, according to minutes of Authority meetings.

Planning Commission

The IMI purchase from the Industrial Development Authority does not include a 1.5-acre residential lot fronting on Aiken Road that abuts the IMI property on two sides.

Thompson Before Planning Commission

The third side of the lot adjoins the Anderson-Wells II property that was before the Planning Commission last week for a rezone. Anderson-Wells is asking that the part of the property inside the city of Bogart be zoned Industrial and the small part in the county be rezoned OBP (Office Business Park).

That 1.5 acre residential lot is owned by Jim Thompson, who spoke in opposition to the Anderson-Wells request at the Planning Commission, saying he has a duplex on the property “and I want to protect the people that rent from me.”

The Anderson-Wells property also has three residential properties on it, each facing Aiken Road as well.

The rezone request does not include the acreage on which those residences sit, though it does include the driveway that leads to the rear of the property on which the trailers now sit.

Mark Campbell from Carter Engineering, representing Anderson-Wells at the Planning Commission hearing, said the rear of the property had chicken houses on it and at some point after they were no longer used the Anderson-Wells began parking “FEMA Emergency trailers” on the land.

The goal of the rezone is to bring the property into compliance with county and Bogart zoning regulations, which prohibit the storage of trailers on the site as currently zoned.

The vote to recommend the rezone to the Oconee County Board of Commissioners was approved by the Planning Commission in a 6 to 1 vote, which Member Chris Herring voting in opposition.

History Of Gateway

The county has owned the four pieces of property making up the Gateway Technology and Business Park since 2000.

Taylors Iron Company

The two largest tracts are north of SR 316 and west of McNutt Creek Road along Aiken Road. The two smaller ones are south of SR 316 west of McNutt Creek Road.

The county purchased the roughly 110 acres with the plan to turn it over to the state for an interchange, which would have been between McNutt Creek Road and Dials Mill Road.

At the time the other four parcels were purchased, the county tried unsuccessfully to purchase from David and Nancy Shadley the additional 29.4 acre parcel lying north of SR 316 between the two large parcels purchased by the county.

When the county learned that the state was not interested in the property the county held for an interchange, it turned the four parcels over to the Industrial Development Authority for development a business park.

The Shadleys sold that property they held to William L. Ulm Sr. in 2006, according to county property records. Ulm now holds the property under the Anderson-Wells LLC name.

The Industrial Development Authority also tried unsuccessfully to purchase that tract from Ulm.

Current plans are for a full-access interchange with SR 316 at McNutt Creek Road.

Remaining Acreage

With the sale of the 52.8 acre parcel to IMI, only one parcel of five acres in size remains from the original four purchased by the county in 2000.

The eastern parcel north of SR 316 is now owned by Rodwood Properties (29.9 acres and 11.5 acres), and Alexion Pharma LLC (11.0 acres).

The Industrial Development Authority had sold 11 acres from that eastern parcel to Rooker Properties LLC in Atlanta in 2013 for $300,000.

Rooker built two buildings on that acreage and sold the improved property to Alexion Pharma of New Haven, Conn. in 2016 for a pharmaceutical production and research operation. Alexion Pharma is the only operating business at Gateway at present.

In November of last year, the Oconee County Industrial Development Authority agreed to donate to the state a 13-acre parcel south of SR 316 on McNutt Creek Road for a new Georgia Department of Driver Services Customer Service Center.

The Georgia Patrol decided subsequently to relocate to the property as well.

Haygood said on Wednesday that the state has not yet closed on that transfer, but he expects it to do so shortly.

Haygood said the remaining five unsold acreage south of SR 316 “is going to be very difficult for anybody to use because it is cut off from any access.”

Haygood said “we might negotiate with the adjoining property owners to see if they want it.”


The video below of the Planning Commission meeting on Aug. 21 is on the Oconee County YouTube site.

The meeting starts at 12:30 in the video.

The first item on the agenda is a request by Hale’s Holdings LLC for a parcel on Atlanta Highway just west of the city of Bogart.

The property is zoned B-1 for Business, and the request is to rezone it to B-2 for Highway Business for a new home for Hale’s Heating and Cooling LLC and for office rental space.

Originally, it was zoned for a gas station.

That discussion begins at 15:40 in the video.

The audio from the front of the room did not function. I did attend the meeting and recorded the video image used above.

The Board voted unanimously to approve the rezone.

The Anderson-Wells rezone begins at 12:38 in the video.

The county did not video record the Industrial Development Authority meeting.

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