Studded with flocks of geese and turkeys, roaming deer and tall pine groves, the short drive along Sugg Parkway in Pitt County’s Indigreen Corporate Park could be mistaken for a state park excursion — except that it houses modern industrial buildings.
The neighborhood grew by one new building this month and Pitt County has the welcome sign out for prospective occupants.
Pitt County Development Commission Director Wanda Yuhas and Brad Hufford, PCDC’s associate director for retention and expansion, gave The Daily Reflector a tour of the building and explained its features.
The approximately 51,000-square-foot shell building sits on about seven wooded acres at 1245 Sugg Pkwy. in the Indigreen Corporate Park, located off of the U.S. 264 bypass.
The land was purchased in May 2014 and the design, created by the Greenville office of the Durham-based MHAworks architectural firm, was finalized in April 2016. Construction began that December by C.A. Lewis, and was completed last month.
The total cost of the project was $2.4 million, including $600,000 of private sector money taken from the original PCDC building fund that has been fed by profits from previous shell building sales. Revenue from this sale will go back into the building fund and used to put up another building, Yuhas said.
The structural steel-framed building’s 42-foot-wide interior column spacing provides 30-foot minimum height clearance and the ability to accommodate a second mezzanine level for offices.
The county’s goal is to sell the building rather than lease it, Hufford said. It could partner with private sector developers who could purchase it, then be responsible for upfits and could lease it out to a private company that might want a lease-to-purchase arrangement, but the preference is to sell the building and have the client finish it out, Yuhas said.
“The name of the game is to be flexible and innovative, and we look for ways to do that,” she said.
Hufford said the new building received positive comments at a recent trade show he attended.
“Shell buildings are a popular way to go for marketing to industry,” he said. “Companies often are looking for a building that’s already been started, which saves them time on construction. Clients want to see a building, even if they end up building one of their own.”
“Seeing a building like this tells companies that the county is serious about development,” Hufford said. “There is enough of a likelihood that the building will sell for the county government to be willing to make this kind of an investment.”
Having this kind of building in place also tells companies something,Yuhas said.
“This building is in Indigreen and meets all of its covenants,” she said. “The size of the building in relation to the size of the property, the heavy landscaping around it and the quality of the construction all meet the standard. That communicates to clients that this is a high-quality building in a high-quality park.
The development commission paid close attention to advice from their colleagues in the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, the economic scion of the NC Commerce Department, during the planning stages,Yuhas said.
“Brad and their people spent months combing through project requests received in Pitt and other counties to review data about preferred building sizes, ceiling heights, floor preferences and other information in order to be sure we’d build the right kind of building,” she said. “We might not have decided on 30-foot minimum ceiling heights, for instance, but the data showed us a preference for that. It also fit our cost budget.”
Although completed at its current dimensions, the building is expandable to 200,000 square feet. One of the important features of the lot is that it has available land on either side that is permitted by the county for such expansion.
“If a client wanted to do that, we could have it up and running in a matter of months,” Hufford said.
Hufford said he and the planners wanted to hit the sweet spot of building features that would cast the widest possible net.
“The name of the game in this business is flexibility,” he said. “You want to be sure you erect a building that doesn’t cut you off from certain projects. We decided to make advanced manufacturing and life sciences our primary target. We studied our proposal data asking what features they’re looking for and what we could build that would make them look at Pitt County and Greenville.”
For advanced manufacturing, the high ceilings are ideal for use of an indoor crane, while pharmaceutical companies often want a mezzanine level, which also can be supported by the building’s design.
The concept of a shell building started in Pitt County in 1987, with the construction of the original Metrics (now Mayne Pharma) building. The county then put up the Coastal Beverage building in Farmville, which has since been expanded.
“The county commissioners told the development commission that if it could raise $500,000 in the private sector for a building, they would match it with an additional $500,000 of county money,” Yuhas said.