Shortly after brokering a $12.5 million deal to sell the Cartersville Crossing Shopping Center off Main Street last year, Mark Harris had a discussion with the head of New York-based Eckstein Properties.
“He said ‘What am I going to do with this money?’” Harris, founding member of Cartersville-based H&H Realty LLC, recounted at Thursday evening’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Interstate Commerce Park (ICP) in northeast Bartow.
“I said ‘You’re going to build us some warehouses,’” Harris continued. “We get more calls for buildings in the 10, 20, 30, 40, 50,000-square foot range or spaces in buildings like that, and we just don’t have the inventory.”
Thursday’s dirt-moving at 1031 Cass-White Road represented the culmination of two years’ worth of planning on the roughly 62-acre ICP development. Harris said the most aggressive site plan for the property would include six buildings — ranging in size from 41,131 square feet to 132,110 square feet — combining for a total footprint of about 477,811 square feet.
“More than likely, we’re going to have it pared down to five buildings, with roughly 320,000 square feet of gross area,” Harris said, “with tenants that will range anywhere from probably 20,000 square feet up to 120,000 square feet when it’s all developed.”
Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development Executive Director Melinda Lemmon acknowledged that a lack of smaller warehouse spaces has cost the community its fair share of significant investments in the past.
“This is needed,” she said at the groundbreaking event. “This is the size of buildings that we get requests on and don’t have very much product of.”
Within four years, Harris said he expects the roughly $30 million park to be developed out.
“The grading contract has been awarded to Plateau Excavation — they need eight weeks of work weather before they can provide us a slab for the first building and we anticipate that around the first of June,” he said. “We plan on being able to turn the building over to some tenants that we’re talking to by late October, mid-November of this year for the first two buildings.”
He said a “plethora” of support industries have already inquired about becoming ICP tenants.
“We have anywhere from small distribution and last-mile distribution on the smaller car parts to the industries that support the larger industries, like the mechanical companies and the machine shops and the actuator companies,” he said. “They are all looking for smaller space around here, closer to their clients.”
Other potential tenants at the new park, he said, include heating and air companies, plumbing contractors and even some light assembling and manufacturing operations.
Georgia Power Community Development Manager Elyse Davis said smaller warehousing spaces of the like are certainly few and far between in the area.
“From a northwest Georgia region perspective,” she said, “there is nothing, virtually — not a product like this — especially on the I-75 corridor.”
Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor also said he has high hopes for the development, which sits off Spring Place Road and is located roughly half a mile from Interstate 75.
“It’s going to be good for this area and it’s going to add to our tax base,” Taylor said. “[Harris] really does care about this community and he cares about what this end product is going to be … I know they’re going to be successful, as he has been in many other ventures.”
Without the help of numerous government officials and adjoining property owners, Harris said the project couldn’t have gotten off the ground.
“There’s no question that this is just another demonstration of how private companies and public officials can work together for the betterment of the community, to create a development that will be long-lasting and create lots of commerce, jobs and economic impacts that we have yet to see and can only imagine,” he said.
Harris dedicated the ceremony to his late business partner Charley Harper, who died last December.
“He was a big part of pulling this project together,” he said. “I also want to dedicate this in part in the honor of his daughter, Leah Harper Bush, who is my new partner at H&H Realty.”
The commerce park represents the third investment in the local community by Eckstein Properties. In addition to the Cartersville Crossing Shopping Center, the firm also invested in a new retail center in West Cartersville; formerly called Village Hill Drive, the spot off West Avenue was rechristened as Charley Harper Drive last week.
Harris said two or three more national tenants will be joining the Taco Bell and Wendy’s in development on Charley Harper Drive before the end of the year. He also said Eckstein Properties is working on another acquisition in the local community, but it was too early to divulge any details.
Harris did, however, announce that he was eying another potential development along the Cass-White corridor.
“Not on this exit, but we’re looking at a roughly 250-300 acre acquisition on CSX rail in the area,” he said, “that will tie in nicely with the U.S. 411 expansion.”