Local business leaders and government officials have been pursuing a conceptual design for the Spring Branch Industrial that was 90 percent complete.
Doug Berry, vice president for economic development at the Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce, presented the design at a recent meeting of the Cleveland/Bradley County Economic Development Council.
The new industrial park is set to be built on land off Spring Branch Road in Cleveland, in close proximity to Interstate 75’s Exit 20.
Berry showed the group some conceptual drawings by Chattanooga-based Arcadis Inc. that showed a master design plan as well as a plan for grading the property to provide even land for building.
“I think we’ve come up with a good design,” he said.
The park, which has a total area 331.6 acres, will be subdivided into nine lots that can then be sold to what Berry said he hopes are new manufacturing plants that could bring new industries to the area.
The lots drawn on the 90-percent complete design drawings are various sizes to accommodate buyers who want to construct buildings of varying size.
The largest lot is 55 acres, and the smallest is just 5.7 acres. Other pieces of land include 8.6, 10.6, 11.4, 11.7, 13.2, 39.2 or 43.5 acres.
However, Berry also shared what he billed good news for the industrial park; some of the lots could get even bigger after the land grading process is complete.
Even taking plan additions like stream buffers and wetland mitigation areas into account, he said the grading has allowed for more usable land than originally anticipated — 1.3 million cubic yards worth of land.
“This should give us the ability to increase the square footage,” Berry said.
He explained the positive discrepancy between original estimates and what is on the latest design was due to the discovery that some of the ridges surrounding the property can serve as natural buffers, which means less land has to be cleared for that purpose.
When the design is complete with lots ready to sell, Berry said the lots should fetch “competitive” prices that would add to local revenues. The per-acre cost could be between $40,000 and $50,000, he speculated.
In addition, he pointed out that any businesses that set up there would eventually be contributing to local property tax revenues.
Berry said he hopes to see the design finished soon and begin presenting it to real estate agents. He said there have been companies that have been looking for lots in the area, but large lots are getting harder and harder to find.
He told the council about a company that had recently looked at the possibility of purchasing a lot in the county, but it was decided that the company needed more space than was available. The particular lot was said to be too close to Walker Valley High School and residential areas.
Berry said it was an automotive supply company that liked the idea of being close to Chattanooga, where the Volkswagen auto manufacturing plant is located. Automotive companies now account for “about half” of the companies with which the Chamber has been dealing, he added.
“We don’t do many of these parks,” Berry said, referencing the cost it takes to build one. “This park will take expenditure. It will take public commitment.”
However, he said this project is needed to attract new businesses to the area.
He also noted that other cities in Tennessee have offered “very generous” incentives for new companies to settle there.
“That’s what we’re competing with,” Gary Farlow, the Chamber’s CEO, said.
However, Farlow also stressed that it is also important that local companies are able to expand as needed, and more land is needed for that reason as well.
Berry showed the council members a list of the top 20 taxpayers in Bradley County and said 13 of the have either recently completed or are considering expansion projects.