Why Fairfield County is building a construction-ready site the size of 17 football fields

November 6, 2022

source: Post and Courier Columbia

FAIRFIELD COUNTY — Crews are felling trees and soon the graders will move in along Interstate 77 near the small town of Ridgeway. When they finish, Fairfield County will clear space for a 1-million square-foot construction-ready pad — large enough to house 17 football fields — all with the hope of edging out regional competitors in luring a major manufacturer that will provide employment for the county’s 21,000 residents.

The groundwork at the I-77 International Megasite was made possible by $6.5 million allocated from Fairfield County’s $99 million legal settlement from Dominion Energy, received in the wake of the abandoned V.C. Summer nuclear reactor project that dealt the state a major economic blow five years ago.

Now the county is hoping to reverse its fortune by taking advantage of a booming industrial market, with manufacturing and warehousing companies scrambling for available space.

“The manufacturing landscape has changed,” said Ann Broadwater, the county’s economic development director. “By pre-grading 26-acres, we can help a company get their product to market much faster than if they had to start building from scratch. This makes our site much more attractive than other megasites, which might require more initial site work.”

Commercial real estate brokers say it’s a strategy that could prove beneficial.

“I think what they’re doing is a positive thing,” said Dave Mathews, a broker with Colliers International who specializes in industrial property. “Everyone is looking to have buildings delivered as soon as possible. By going ahead and doing that significant groundwork, they’re creating an advantage for themselves, there’s no doubt about it.”

Matthews estimates it could reduce construction time by as much as six months.

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