PENDER COUNTY — The county and its partner, Wilmington Business Development, have reached a deal with a Winston-Salem developer to add a sixth business to the Pender Commerce Park.
After months of speculation, Chris Ramm and his Taylor Development Group closed on a deal on Monday to invest $8 million in building a 126,360-square-foot warehouse, according to a release from WBD. The non-profit originally partnered with Pender County to build the park and recruit manufacturers, distribution companies, food processing companies and company headquarters to its industrial campus.
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The warehouse will be built as a speculative building, aimed to attract industrial companies.
The announcement comes on the heels of Indian industrial hose manufacturer Polyhose announcing in November an investment of $7.9 million to build a distribution warehouse inside the industrial park. The two projects join Acme Smoked Fish, Empire Distributors, FedEd Freight, and Coastal Beverage Company.
“We’re ready to roll,” Ramm said.
Construction is expected to be completed within the year. A groundbreaking is planned for sometime in February and completion of the warehouse during the summer or early fall of 2020.
Designs call for 32-foot ceiling heights, customizable dock placements, and large ‘truck courts’ to offer ready-to-go warehouse and distribution space for companies looking for access to southeastern U.S. consumer markets.
Ramm attributes growing e-commerce activity, the completion of road connections like I-140, and the installation of water and wastewater services along U.S. Highway 421 in explaining the ideal timing of the investment.
“Hopefully, we’re a little ahead of the curve and our foresight will pay off here,” Ramm said.
Ramm is a key partner in the development and chief operations officer at Taylor Development Group. The Winston-Salem development firm first invested in Wilmington three years ago when it acquired office buildings in Landfall Park and downtown Wilmington, at Third and Grace Street. Ramm noticed a scarcity of available industrial space in the region, and decided on building a warehouse inside the industrial park through guidance from Cape Fear Commercial and WBD.
“We spent a year researching the market and looked at sites all over the region,” Ramm said. “We kept coming back to Pender Commerce Park … Acme Smoked Fish, Empire Distributors, FedEx, Coastal Beverage and Polyhose — all these are sophisticated tenants who had done their homework.”
The park’s access to I-140, Wilmington International Airport, and the Port of Wilmington were large draws to build the warehouse inside the park, according to the release. The park is located on Highway 421, roughly a mile east of the Cape Fear River.
Pender County Chairman George Brown said the investment was further evidence that “the county’s investment in the park continues to yield lucrative returns,” according to the release.
“Today’s businesses want to be able to move quickly on expansion plans, and this investment by Taylor Development Group will hasten the arrival of the county’s next big industrial resident,” Brown said. “We’re excited that a high-quality property developer shares our view that the right ingredients are in place to make Pender County an A-list destination for high-growth companies.”
Cape Fear Commercial will partner with Ramm to manage and market the property. The real estate firm’s senior vice president, Will Leonard, said the building will “help move the needle on job creation efforts.”
“I think this move could be a catalyst for economic development in the region,” Leonard said.
Chief executive officer of WBD, Scott Satterfield, said the speculative warehouse fits in well with the region’s strategy of diversifying economic development.
“Class-A industrial product of this scale is essential in our recruitment efforts,” Satterfield said. “What Chris Ramm and Cape Fear Commercial are doing is shifting the park into an even higher gear with the kind of state-of-the-art space that attracts national attention from high-octane companies that want a world-class environment — and are ready to move now,” Satterfield said.
WBD is a non-profit organization that oversees business and industrial recruitment for Wilmington, New Hanover County, and Pender County.