Chatham County is moving toward an economic transformation with a 1,818-acre “megasite” that will be used by local and state officials to lure a single, very large industrial user. The property sits along the Chatham-Randolph county line and is divided between two owners, Tim Booras and D.H. Griffin Sr., who have both signed an agreement to keep their properties as a megasite for two years.
The megasite received official N.C. certification in June, making it the only megasite in the state’s certified inventory. The certification means the property has completed Phase I of the process – environmental studies and wetland delineation. Reports include soil-boring, endangered species, distance to shipping ports, and rail line support. “This certainly has put us on another level,” said Nat Taylor, who’s handling real estate marketing for Booras.
The next step is to launch a full-scale marketing effort. Though the site is being marketed to a variety of industries, automakers are the focal point. “North Carolina is in virgin territory here; we’ve never done anything like this so we’re kind of learning as we go along,” said Booras.
It’s been estimated that a 50-year lifespan of an auto plant generates a 60 to 1 return on investment for the economy, a multiplier effect that economic developers say central N.C. desperately needs. The site’s backers are working with the state to develop incentive packages to land a final user.
Beyond the megasite lies a 270-acre “feeder/multi-use park” that could serve as a complementary area to the planned development. The property is managed by Booras, but owned by Tim’s Farm and Forestry II. Potential uses include a satellite community college campus for worker training, a full-service hotel with restaurant, apartments/townhomes, or support services.
Additionally, the megasite is about 20 miles from Chatham Park, the massive residential and commercial development approved by Pittsboro earlier this year. “I consider the next steps to be market, market, market,” said Dianne Reid, president of the Chatham County Economic Development Corp. “Get the word out to as many consultants and make them aware that this site is available.”
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