GEORGETOWN – Business is literally expanding and on the move in Sussex County.
County leaders at Tuesday’s county council meeting announced the purchase of the 74-acre King Farm, off Park Avenue east of Georgetown, to add to the footprint of the adjacent Sussex County Industrial Park.
The purchase allows the county to expand its leasable space offerings for future tenants. The current park hosts 20 businesses that employ some 900 people.
County Administrator Todd F. Lawson said the purchase, at a cost of $2.2 million, will add more than 30 acres of new leasable commercial/industrial space within the county. It is the most significant addition to the county’s 175-acre industrial park since it was initially laid out within the Delaware Coastal Airport complex in the early 1970s.
Mr. Lawson, joined by Sussex County Engineer Hans Medlarz, briefed county council on the purchase and infrastructure improvements that will be needed in the coming months to make the addition site-ready for future tenants.
“This is more than just adding acreage – this is an expansion of economic development opportunities for businesses and the economy here in Sussex County,” said Mr. Lawson, noting the park already provides convenient access to air, rail and ground transportation. ‘We’re excited to be able to grow the park and provide a base of operations for new businesses that want to employ our residents, to make a quality product and call Sussex County home.”
The land was originally scheduled to be developed by another owner, but when that project stalled the county stepped in to purchase the parcel and infrastructure already built.
The project sat idle for several years and ultimately was for sale for over $4.8 million, Mr. Lawson said. Given its proximity to the county’s existing industrial park and the need for the county to acquire more land there had been discussions about property for some time, said Mr. Lawson.
The deal was finalized in mid-February, for less than half the original asking price, and already the county has landed its first future tenant, Atlantis Industries of Milton.
Atlantis has already broken ground on their new site and plans to set up manufacturing operations within the newly expanded portion of the park, as early as this summer, Mr. Lawson said.
Mr. Medlarz said as many as a dozen lots of varying sizes could be carved out within the new addition. It will take approximately 10 months to a year for the county to make necessary improvements, including the installation of streets, drainage, natural gas, fiber communications, water and wastewater infrastructure, for the addition to be fully marketable.
However, work will be performed in phases, allowing the first tenants, including Atlantis, to move in sooner and as needed, Mr. Medlarz said.
Atlantis Industries President Thad Schippereit said he is excited to relocate his precision injection molding and custom tool-making business to a larger, start-of-the-art space within the park and be part of a larger manufacturing community.
Atlantis plans to construct a 40,000-square-foot building within the park, and has already paid the county $500,000 to the lease the property for the next 99 years. With its relocation and expansion, Atlantis will have all its operations under one roof, with plans to add 20 to 25 jobs in the coming years.
“We are excited to be relocating our Atlantis Industries business to the Sussex County Industrial Park in Georgetown in 2017. This new location will support our current growth plans, and will provide opportunities for further expansion of our business in the future,” Mr. Schippereit said. “We are appreciative of the efforts by the county administration to help make this relocation possible for us.”
“We are happy that the county was able to acquire the property. We appreciate the efforts of the county administration to make this opportunity work for us,” said Mr. Schippereit, adding expectations are of “being in the facility by no later than September of this year.”
Sussex County Council President Michael H. Vincent said the purchase and signing of the first tenant is great news for businesses, the economy, and, most of all, local taxpayers.
“Any time you have a chance to spur job creation, I think that’s a good thing,” Mr. Vincent said. “One of the county’s roles is to promote economic development, and this purchase does that. It gives companies great access to markets from an affordable place to do business. It gives our residents new employment opportunities with the businesses that set up there. And it represents a continuing return on investment for the taxpayers by having businesses leasing space from the county year after year.”
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