Saturday, August 29, 2009

Jafza refocuses on debut of US project


Dan McCue on Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dubai-based Jafza International's American unit is refocusing its plans for the company's first-ever North American development.

The firm said it will initially build on just 200 acres of the 1,324 acres it bought in Orangeburg, South Carolina, two years ago.

Dubbed phase 1a, groundbreaking on this first stage of what is anticipated to be a 20-year build out is tentatively scheduled for the first quarter of 2010.

Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (Jafza) Managing Director Chuck Heath said the initial development will focus on light manufacturing, some distribution and warehousing, and office space.

"We've also had a market-driven concept for this project, and of course, given the economic downturn we've all experienced, we thought it prudent to start small and grow as the economy strengthens," he said.

Meanwhile, project managers have taken another look at the more aggressive build-out and development plan unveiled last autumn and decided to refine the firm's approach to the site.

"It's not so much a rethinking of our plans as getting down to a new level of detail in our planning," said the Jafza managing director.

Last autumn, hundreds crowded into a theatre in Orangeburg, a few miles from the Jafza site, heard a presentation in which the $600 million (Dh2.2 billion) project was envisioned as being rolled out in five phases, culminating with total build-out in 2032.

Phase one was always envisioned as a mixed use development, while phase two, initially expected to be completed by 2016, would have added more warehouse and distribution space as well as a 63-acre intermodal yard.

Successive phases were to continue to add warehouse, distribution and light manufacturing, as sales and interest dictated.

But the preliminary master plan also anticipated intense activity on the site – with as many as 660,000 cargo containers passing through the park on an annual basis, generating about 50,000 daily truck trips.

Instead of maxing out the intensity of land use, Heath said Jafza will bring the project back into line with the "campus/office park" concept he promoted immediately after the Dubai World purchased the land in September 2007.

"We always said we wanted this project to complement the surrounding environment, and to do that I think you really have to consider not going in and tearing down every tree," he said.

According to Heath, the return to a more park-like approach to the development was influenced at least in part by studies Jafza undertook to determine the intensity of wetlands on the site.

Of the entire 1,324 acres, only about three acres proved completely undevelopable due to onsite wetlands. While the company could have chosen to fill some of them by undertaking regulator-approved mitigation efforts, Heath decided to leave the existing wetlands just as they are.

"When you are up in the air and see an aerial view of the site, it instantly becomes clear which areas will benefit from and be most cost-effective for development, and it is also clear which areas will be more beneficial to the project if left in a natural or wild state," he said.

As for the remaining phases of development, Heath said those will be entirely dictated by the strength and timing of the economic rebound. "For instance, right now we're not as concerned about the intermodal aspect of the project," he said.

"We'll set aside land for it, of course, but currently there is just not enough cargo movement to warrant its development now."

Heath also revealed that Jafza kicked off its North American marketing effort on June 23 at the sixth annual Third Party Logistics Summit in Atlanta. "We're actively soliciting clients, and we're about to do our first mailing, sending our new brochure to about 1,900 prospects across North America," he said.

A similar mail effort targeting companies in Jafza's massive Jebel Ali facility in Dubai will be undertaken in late September, after the conclusion of Ramadan.

"In a sense, we'll obviously be treading water [during Ramadan], but it will also give us additional time to prepare for a very orderly marketing effort in Dubai," Heath said.

"In any event, we currently have seven or eight prospects we're pursuing in the Americas and Europe, so it's getting very interesting," he added.

The other thing on Jafza America's plate is drafting the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the six civil engineering firms selected to potentially work on the project through a requests for qualifications (RFQ) that concluded in June.

"This is where we get down to details and provide them with a detailed scope of work, looking at roads, utilities, where the initial building pads will be, all the things you need to know to actually develop the site."

Each of the firms will be expected to then supply Jafza with a financial and technical proposal, which will then be rated by a committee.

"We'll be looking for both expertise and competitive pricing – of course that won't be going for the lowest bidder. What you're looking for is a combination of attributes," said Heath.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Jafza approach is good business in tough times

Friday, August 28, 2009

ISSUE: Jafza’s Santee plan

OUR VIEW: Developing accessible areas now means quicker return on investment

It wasn’t hard to tell that a lot of people were interested in the latest message from Jafza Americas about its plans to build a global logistics park in Santee.

During summer vacation months, attendance at civic club meetings tends to be off. Whether its Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, a lot of people miss sessions or make up elsewhere because they are out of town or otherwise obligated. Not Tuesday. The dining hall at the Orangeburg Country Club was full as Rotarians from Orangeburg, Santee and Charleston were joined by government officials and others to hear from Tara Robertson, spokeswoman for Jafza.

The message she brought was as predictable as it was relieving.

Jafza had already decided that it would limit its U.S. focus during the recession to land it owns in Santee. In other words, instead of thinking further expansion, develop the land in which money already is invested.

Beyond that, Jafza says now the emphasis will be on developing 200 acres of its 1,322 in Santee. This will be acreage that is most accessible to existing roadways.

With the modifications to U.S. 301 still in the planning phase, waiting means delaying any movement on the project. And that means waiting for return on investment.

Robertonson put it this way: “We are in a recession, hence we are going to switch things up to adapt to that. This project we have always said is market driven, and as you know, the market has subsided somewhat, but there are some opportunities out there.”

“The first phase was contingent on U.S. 301 (modification) since that time line is still being tweaked and we can develop other areas now. Why not?” Robertson said. “Everyone wants to see some movement, and so we have adjusted our thinking process. We are focusing on areas available today.”

Indeed. Why not?

The prospects for Jafza and its ultimate plan for development in eastern Orangeburg County remain very exciting for Orangeburg County and the region. The recession will end. Progress will return, and having a player on the level of Jafza with a vested interest in growth here only puts us ahead of the curve in the recovery and beyond.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gazeley Chatterley Valley Video Added

I just added a Gazeley Chatterley Valley Video to the site. Chatterley Valley was mentioned at the Jafza update as a possible warehouse that could be built in Santee for a client if desired.

Jafza focuses on most accessible 200 acres

By GENE ZALESKI, T&D Staff Writer Thursday, August 27, 2009

Because of global economic challenges, a Jafza Americas official says the company is refocusing its Santee global logistics park development plans to land plots readily accessible in the 1,322 acres of Jafza Magna Park-Santee

“We are in a recession, hence we are going to switch things up to adapt to that,” Jafza spokeswoman Tara Robertson told Orangeburg Rotarians during a Tuesday luncheon. “This project we have always said is market driven, and as you know, the market has subsided somewhat, but there are some opportunities out there.”

Robertson said the properties that will be developed immediately have ready road access.

“The first phase was contingent on U.S. 301 (modification) since that time line is still being tweaked and we can develop other areas now. Why not?” Robertson said. “Everyone wants to see some movement, and so we have adjusted our thinking process. We are focusing on areas available today.”

The first four plots, which total about 200 acres, will be developed primarily near Hannah Drive, Knowles Street, Intercoastal and LTD Road. These will all be temporary access points to the property.

Phase 1a, which should see groundbreaking around the first quarter of 2010, will focus on warehousing, distribution and office space.

About $15 million of federal, state and local monies have been allocated toward modification or upgrade of the U.S. 301 and Interstate 95 interchange. Currently, there is no southbound access to U.S. 301 from I-95.

The project is expected to be a minimum of about $25 million to upward of $60 million to upgrade.

“We have to develop the park,” Orangeburg County Economic Development Commission Executive Director Gregg Robinson said. “We have to address the issues related to connectivity with the modification of Exit 97 and we also have to look at improvements to the wastewater and water system in Santee.”

“But we can service the park right now,” Robinson said, noting that it has all the infrastructure a company would need.

Currently, Jafza continues to work on due diligence and property studies to lessen environmental impacts.

Jafza acquired the land in 2007.

“We have shown these sites to potential clients and have actually sent out proposals. We are waiting on hearing back from them,” Robertson said. “Companies are looking at areas in which they can expand their business and we need to market our project as “we are there, and we are ready for you now.’”

She declined comment on specific clients or discussions.

Robertson said that despite the economic challenges, Jafza remains committed to Santee and Orangeburg County.

“It has been a long time coming and we still have a long way to go,” she said. “But we are still here to stay. We are not going anywhere.”

Addressing concerns about truck flow, Robinson said the property has access to three interstate exits and enough area where traffic flow would be routed as much as possible away from the town of Santee.

The exits would be 93, 97 and 98.

He also added that property access would differ depending on client needs -- such as whether they prefer rail, a remote location or interstate frontage.

“We can build a new road in any portion of the county,” Robinson said. “If a company needs a road, I can build them a road. We have correct county roads that lead to their site that we can easily develop.”

Addressing concerns about traffic flow, Robinson said that with Food Lion located about 6 miles from Santee, truck traffic is already present in the area.

“You are not going to have a massive amount of truck traffic increase. It is in a phased approach. Will we see some, yes. Will we see an overburden of trucks, no,” he said.

Robertson said the park will not occupy companies bringing in 1,000 jobs.

“We are talking about 100 to 200 maybe 500 jobs that would be a max on the plot,” she said, adding that the acreage will help spread out traffic flow.

In the meantime, Robertson said the company is ramping up its marketing efforts, noting that it has a database of about 1,200 target customers and will “build to suit,” meaning that if a company requests a certain building, it will be done.

“We will build it for you,” Robertson said. “When you see a building going up, you know a client is coming in.”

Robertson said with Jafza’s acquisition of Gazeley, a global logistics park developer, in July 2008, the company has brought with it environmentally conscious expertise. She said Gazeley has created what is believed to be the world’s only carbon-negative logistics park in England and could do the same in Orangeburg if client-driven.

“We will have a sustainable approach to help the business bottom line,” she said. “Cap and trade ... that could really hurt a businesses bottom line. We can build in those things to help reduce your energy.”

T&D Staff Writer Gene Zaleski can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 803-533-5551.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Jafza Video Added to Site

I just added a new video about Jafza to the video section of the website. I hope that you find this website informative and helpful.


Update on I95 exit 97 and 301 Extension

On Thursday, September 3rd, the South Carolina department of transportation will have a representative come to speak to the Lake Marion Rotary Club. SC DOT will be updating us on the upgrading of I95's exit 97 and the extension of 301 to Hwy 6.

Space will be very limit. If you would like to be my guest to the meeting, please contact me.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

LMRWA eyes construction of Holly Hill, Calhoun Phase II reaches

By Martha Rose Brown, T&D Correspondent Saturday, August 15, 2009

With the Santee waterline reaches up and running, the Lake Marion Regional Water Agency is proceeding with plans to start construction within the next few months of the Holly Hill and Calhoun County Phase II waterlines.

During this month’s meeting of the LMRWA, held at the water treatment facility in Santee, plant operations official Darla Barnette and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers representative Patrick O’Donnell announced that the process for securing construction bids and permits is under way for the initial phase of the Holly Hill reach, which will ultimately supply water from Lake Marion to the Holly Hill area.

Currently, the Town of Santee is the only customer that is completely tapped into and using the LMRWA to supply its water – other towns and areas also plan to tie into the regional water system.

LMRWA and Army Corps of Engineers officials are working together to hold a “media event” when construction begins for the Holly Hill reach, which will initially connect Wells Crossroad to the LMRWA water treatment facility in Santee.

O’Donnell tentatively set a date in late October for the ceremony in Holly Hill.

Barnette said the Holly Hill reach will “leave from the Santee reach and come down through, parallel to Interstate 95 and cut over to Highway 15 down to Wells Crossroad.”

The waterline will measure approximately 36,600 linear feet – a total of six miles.

Also during the meeting, auditor James “Jamie” Michaelson of the firm Robert E. Milhouse CPA, whose main office is in Columbia, issued a “clean opinion” of LMRWA’s financial statements for FY 2008, which ended Dec. 31.

According to the balance sheet, LMRWA has $56,238,018 in total assets combined with total liabilities and net assets. With the water system serving its first customers beginning last year, LMRWA gained $112,396 in total operating revenue (which includes membership fees and volumetric revenue).

The LMRWA has been the recipient of approximately $51.9 million in federal, state and local contributions to aid in the construction of the water treatment plant and distribution systems, according to the audit.

The water treatment plant’s capacity is eight million gallons per day.

The next regular meeting of the LMRWA will be at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1, at the Lake Marion Regional Water Treatment Plant in Santee.

T&D Correspondent Martha Rose Brown can be reached by e-mail at Discuss this and other stories online at

Monday, August 10, 2009

Condos in Santee

Now is the time to buy a waterfront condo in Santee, if you are in the market for one.

In Ballard's Point III, there is a 3Br 3Ba third floor condo for sale @ $149,900. 3Br units in phase III sold for around $250,000 in 2007.

In Ballard's Point II, four units are being auctioned off later this month. This auction company mostly auctions properties that are foreclosures or in loss mitigation.

If you have any interest in buying a waterfront condo in Santee please call me.