Thursday, August 27, 2009

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.

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