Prime N.C. industrial sites back under option 1,000-acre tracts are assembled to lure big industry

July 05, 1998|By COX NEWS SERVICE

MEBANE, N.C. -- Economic developers in North Carolina have reassembled two 1,000-acre tracts in hopes of luring one of the big industrial prospects scouting the South.

Site-selection specialists said they're working with companies on several projects which, if built, would range in investment from $300 million to $400 million and would create hundreds of jobs.

Eager to land one of those projects, the North Carolina Commerce Department requested that Duke Power Co. seek to secure or renew options to buy property in Alamance County, between Raleigh and Greensboro.

Duke Power, which recruits industry in order to sell more electricity, said it secured options with more than 100 property owners. In exchange for payments of $500, the owners agreed to sell their land over the next six months to a year.

The sale price of the land is stated in the options contracts. For instance, a 9-acre tract with a house and several outbuildings near the town of Mebane is under option at roughly $30,000 an acre.

Developers said the Alamance County property is among the South's best industrial sites. The tracts are on either side of I-40/85. In recent years, they have been considered as factory sites by several large manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Volvo Trucks North America.

Mercedes chose a site in Vance, Ala. Volvo Trucks decided to expand in Dublin, Va., where it already made heavy-duty trucks. Audi said it's interest in building a North American assembly hTC plant has waned. Still, industrial activity is perking up. "I know there are several good-sized projects looking around the South," said Bill Dorsey, a site consultant for Fluor Daniel in Greenville, S.C.

He would not identify the clients he is working with nor any of the industrial projects he's heard about except to say they are not related to automobile manufacturing.

Consultants said North Carolina officials probably got wind of the projects and are getting the best sites ready for prospective industry. Bob Leak, a Raleigh site-selection consultant, said he understands that several projects are inquiring about the availability of large sites in North Carolina.

"I'm think the state Department of Commerce is smart to keep those sites from being broken up and being sold off for smaller purposes," Leak said. "A megasite is something very difficult to come by these days."

Former North Carolina Gov. Bob Scott, 69, said he refused to renew an option for approximately 30 acres he owns. "I am not going to tie up my land for another six months," he said.

Pub Date: 7/05/98

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