Savannah, Georgia’s virtuous cycle of industrial development continued on Wednesday with the announcement that a 1.2 million-square-foot industrial park will be built about 15 miles from the port of Savannah.
The park, coined the “Southeast Gateway,” will be erected on a 137-acre parcel located 1 mile from Interstate 95 and 6 miles from the junction of Interstates 16 and 95, where virtually all inland traffic to and from the port flows. The park will consist of a 1 million-square-foot cross-docking facility and a second 184,000-square-foot, single-load building. Construction on the first of the two buildings will be completed during the second quarter of 2022, according to JLL Capital Markets, a unit of real estate and logistics giant JLL Inc. (NYSE:JLL). It was unclear which building would be finished first.
The JLL unit arranged a joint venture equity partnership between Conor Commercial Real Estate, the developer, and WHI Real Estate Partners LP, a real estate limited partnership.
The announcement builds on momentum from two deals announced in May. Early that month, Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) said it will build a 640,000-square-foot fulfillment center in Savannah. Later that month, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp authorized the purchase of a 2,284-acre site as part of a partnership agreement between the state and a development authority. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the state called it the largest such purchase in its history.
The port of Savannah has become arguably the nation’s most successful container port, fueled by strong population growth across the southeast U.S. and a renowned logistics infrastructure. The Garden City container facility, less than 2 miles from the docks, is the largest single-terminal operation in North America. Users have lauded the complex’s truck and rail connections. CSX Corp. (NYSE:CSX) and Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC), the two Eastern Class I rails, operate 38 weekly trains arriving and departing the port’s environs every week, according to the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA), the state agency that owns and operates the Ports of Savannah and Brunswick. The latter port handles bulk, breakbulk and roll-on, roll-off cargoes like autos.
The Mason Mega Rail project, launched in 2018, is expected to extend the port of Savannah’s reach as far west as St. Louis.
Based on GPA data, it has developed about 78 million square feet within 30 miles of the port’s environs. Yet the port authority appears far from maxing out its real estate footprint. About 100 million square feet sits within the 30-mile radius that is still permissible for commercial development, GPA said.