94 acres annexed Tues. night; plans for 745,700 sq. ft. of warehouses filed next day
Graham’s city council approved an annexation of about 94 acres along Cherry Lane near I-85/40 that appeared to have all the markings of yet another distribution center in the offing.
The acreage, previously in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ), is already zoned for light industrial use, the city’s zoning designation necessary for distribution centers and warehouses.
In fact, by Wednesday, the suspense was over, as plans were filed with the city’s planning department for five warehouse buildings totaling 745,700 square feet on the 94-acre site. The buildings’ square footages are listed as: 290,500; 285,600; 67,200; 54,400; and 48,000.
[Story continues below maps of annexed properties and warehouse layout.]
There are three entrances shown into the warehouse complex off of Cherry Lane, one near the overpass over I-85/40 and two more farther south.
The would-be owner of the land, the Welcome Group of Houston, Texas, describes itself as a “a conglomerate of companies that own and lease single-tenant office, lab, industrial, and manufacturing facilities.” The company also says it is “currently in ‘acquisition mode’ and looking for direct purchases and sale-leasebacks throughout the country.”
The company has contracts to purchase the properties, attorney Lawson Brown told the city council Tuesday night.
The total square footage makes the project the second largest in the city’s history. The Lidl distribution center on the Graham side of the nearby Hawfields-area industrial park was listed as 850,000. Another national developer, Al Neyer, began work last week on another large project, 579,000 square feet, off Jimmie Kerr Road and beside I-85/40, behind the Flying J truck stop.
Amazon has a 297,000-square-foot distribution center, also on the Graham side of the Hawfields-area industrial park, and Windsor Commercial (which started the Amazon building as spec construction) is building another warehouse building beside it, also for 297,000 square feet.
An early tip-off about the Cherry Lane land came during a city council meeting back in April, when Hillsborough attorney Bill Aucoin, who was representing the current property owners, used the term “logistics,” as a possible future use for the property.
Another potential clue to the industrial nature of the Welcome Group’s plans could be gleaned from Brown’s assurances from discussions with the N.C. DOT that road improvements [that would support tractor trailer traffic] would be made in the area.
NCDOT will “make pavement improvements to Cherry Lane between NC 54 to Trollingwood Road by adding an asphalt and stone surface treatment, plus an additional 1.5 inches of asphalt pavement on top.” It was explained that the asphalt and stone surface treatment “adds structural strength and stability beyond just the pavement overlay.”
Brown also relayed that “in the [section of Cherry Lane] between Gov. Scott [Farm] Road and Trollingwood Road, 2-foot paved shoulders will be added in addition to the . . . pavement improvements.”
DOT’s plan is to complete these improvements by June 30, 2023, Brown concluded.
Mayor Jennifer Talley pressed Brown on how likely DOT was to be able to actually accomplish the timetable that Brown had outlined from DOT.
“That’s the information we have from the N.C. Department of Transportation,” Brown responded.
Brown also indicated that an agreement “in principle” had been reached with an adjacent property owner, Chad Huffine. Huffine who is an engineer who often works on development projects, was, in fact, not able to be present inasmuch as he was at Elon town council’s meeting on a mixed-use development. Huffine is also a member of Graham’s planning board.
Talley said that Huffine had relayed his concerns to her prior to the meeting about final action being taken, but Brown reassured that the agreement was all but finalized.
Brown referred to part of that agreement as a “land swap” and also evening out some of the property lines with Huffine, in addition to providing adequate buffers from the industrial site.
The plans submitted Wednesday seem to show about three acres next to Huffine being conveyed to him from the developer.
Talley and council member Bonnie Whitaker lamented Brown’s admission that the developer had not been in touch with residents at nearby Old Fields, who were staunchly opposed to a different warehouse project, across the street from their subdivision, earlier this year. The developer ultimately withdrew those plans in the face of neighborhood and planning board opposition.
But councilman Joey Parsons noted that all of the parcels involved in the annexation had long been zoned for light industrial use, so residents were bound to have known what was coming in the future.
OTHER GRAHAM DEVELOPMENT NEWS:
Another company buys 20 acres, also on Cherry Lane (August 11, 2022 edition): https://alamancenews.com/another-co-buys-20-acres-just-down-the-road/
Large distribution center with 579,000 square feet now under construction behind Flying J truck stop along Jimmie Kerr Road, also in Graham (August 4, 2022 edition): https://alamancenews.com/579000-square-foot-distribution-center-planned-for-land-near-truck-stop/