County Finance Committee to recommend spec building

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By Stan Welch

The Anderson County Council Finance Committee, chaired by District Five Councilman Tommy Dunn, voted Tuesday afternoon to recommend approval of the concept of building a commercial building on speculation. The recommendation, which encourages the concept but does not promote any particular site, will be presented to the full council at their next meeting. There are two sites under consideration.

One site is at the industrial park located at the Anderson County Airport. The other is a site along I-85. The Bessie Tucker site near the intersection of Hwy. 81 and I-85 is one of the few sites in the state fully qualified for various sources of funding and tax credits. Funding is a key factor in determining the location.

For example, Steve Newton , assistant to County Administrator Rusty Burns, explained that the Appalachian Regional Council, a major source of federally administered funding, had made it quite clear that they would help fund only a site along the interstate. The projected cost of that facility, in that location, would come to approximately $1.9 million; with potential sources of funding in the neighborhood of just over a million dollars, leaving the county to finance the remaining $937,000.

The same fifty thousand square foot building constructed at the airport site would cost approximately $1.8 million. However, due to lesser funding sources for that project, amounting to only $390,000, the county would have to finance approximately $1.4 million of that amount.

In addition, according to county administrator Rusty Burns, the airport site would require more infrastructure to be built than the interstate site. The speculation, or spec, building is intended to attract industrial and manufacturing interests to the area.

The county has been on a hot streak in the last two or three years, attracting thousands of jobs and more than a billion dollars in capital improvements, with Michelin preparing to add a half billion more in expansion.

Burriss Nelson, director of the county’s economic development department, told the committee that the last few businesses to locate in Anderson County have occupied vacant buildings. “That’s great because it puts those buildings back on the tax rolls, and it lets these folks get into production more quickly. But when the spec building that is currently on the market in Alliance Park gets filled, we may be hurting for ready to go properties.”

The committee will recommend approval of the idea of building a spec building to the full Council, but stopped short of recommending a specific site. Finance committee member District Six representative Ken Waters voted for the generic recommendation, but plans to consult the county attorney about his position in the final vote, since Duke Energy has agreed to provide $75,000 for the airport site. Waters is employed by Duke Energy and will likely recuse himself from any final vote.