Construction on the first building in a logistics park along Interstate 85 in Macon County is set to begin soon, with supporters predicting a massive economic impact once all three phases are completed.
The Macon County Economic Development Authority (MCEDA), Farpoint Development, and local businessmen Jimmy and Wayne Bassett collaborated on the Regional East Alabama Logistics (REAL) Park project.
Farpoint will develop the park, which will span 683 acres on the site of Beck’s Turf Farm off I-85 Exit 42. The turf farm is owned and operated by the Bassett brothers. When the three phases of the project are completed in seven to ten years, the project will have around 13 buildings totaling 5 million square feet of space.
The first building, a 169,000-square-foot expandable industrial commercial structure, is set to begin construction this summer.
It will be the only “Class A” warehouse/manufacturing building available for lease within a 40-mile radius when construction is completed in the fourth quarter.
“Having a park plan of this size, scope, and world-class partners means we have a broad team working together, bringing their own dollars and networks into landing projects and creating new jobs,” MCEDA Director Joe Turnham explained.
“With the right team, the right project in the right place at the right time,” he said, “this initial investment has the potential to be a tipping point in the development of our community for decades to come.”
Work on the Phase 1 building, according to Turnham, will create construction jobs and a significant economic impact, as well as ripple effects throughout Macon County.
He believes the finished project will be transformative.
When completed, the project will bring $386 million in new economic capital investment, according to an economic impact analysis conducted by the University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research.
According to the Farpoint-commissioned analysis, the project will create over 1,000 new direct jobs and 863 new indirect jobs.
The Phase 1 building is being actively marketed as an industrial facility for lease by Farpoint, which has an office in Asheville, North Carolina. Throughout the site, design-build and leaseback programmes for industry will be available.
“We are very excited to launch the REAL Park alongside our strong local partners such as Opportunity Alabama, MCEDA, and, of course, the Bassett brothers,” said Farpoint managing director Justin Patwin. Opportunity Alabama is supported by the Alabama Power Foundation.
“We believe this project has the potential to become a regional catalyst for broader economic opportunities and strengthen Alabama’s position as a global trade destination,” he said.
Tuskegee is two miles north of the park, and Auburn is 15 miles away. The location is about 50 miles from the Hyundai manufacturing plant in Montgomery and less than 35 miles from the Kia auto assembly plant in West Point, Georgia.
According to Turnham, the REAL Park development team has met with the Alabama Department of Commerce, numerous utilities, and industrial development consultants, and believes that the development of a large logistics park will meet current market demand head-on.
“REAL Park will better position Macon County to take full advantage of economic growth along the I-85 corridor,” said Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield.
“Having a building on-site will jump-start the development team’s efforts to quickly capitalise on the opportunities in industries like automotive, aerospace, forest products, and manufacturing,” he said.