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Charleston distribution corridor gaining steam

Charleston Regional Business Journal
Chuck Crumbo
October 21, 2011

Pad-by-pad, building-by-building, the Charleston distribution corridor is growing.

The latest development was announced recently by the Rockefeller Group and MeadWestvaco, which have begun construction of a pad for a 455,600-square-foot distribution center in the Foreign Trade Zone near Jedburg.

The 400-acre site already is home to a 1.1 million-square-foot distribution center, which was completed in January for TBC Corp., one of the largest marketers of automotive replacement tires. More recently, a pad for a 561,600-square-foot building with frontage along Interstate 26 was completed.

Developers plan to have four buildings totaling 2.7 million square feet on the 400-acre Berkeley County site near I-26.

Having space prepared for development is essential to meeting growth plans for the Port of Charleston, which is currently undergoing a 10-year expansion project to include a sixth terminal and an additional 1.4 million TEU capacity.

Although no tenant has been signed for the new space, Kenneth T. Seeger, president of MWV Community Development and Land Management, said it’s important to be ready.

“The key for The Rockefeller Group-MeadWestvaco Foreign Trade Zone in meeting the needs of a variety of users is to have multiple pads available that can be developed quickly to offer immediate availability in this preferred location,” Seeger said. “The end goal is to bring more and better paying jobs to South Carolina.”

The site plan for the joint development by Rockefeller Group and MeadWestvaco of industrial, warehouse and distribution space that is located inside a Foreign Trade Zone in Jedburg.

Having pad-ready sites shortens the development time by about six months, Seeger said. A tenant can be in a new building in approximately six months instead of having to wait a year for a pad to be built and building constructed.

Seeger noted that the Jedburg site is roughly 25 miles from downtown Charleston and the interchange of interstates 95 and 26. It’s also minutes from the Boeing Co.’s new 787 Dreamliner assembly plant in North Charleston and the Port of Charleston.

Such a location, along with its Foreign Trade Zone designation, should make the development ideal for a distribution center or light manufacturing, Seeger said.

Seeger expects the newest pad to be completed by May.

“With two completed pads and two fully-designed and permitted buildings, we feel we will be in a position to respond rapidly to a variety of tenant requirements,” Seeger said.

The Charleston market is a strategic location for distribution centers serving the East Coast. It’s halfway between Miami and New York, accessible to an interstate highway network, and is served by two railroads, Charleston International Airport and the Port of Charleston.

Business Facilities magazine placed Charleston No. 9 in its 2011 metro rankings of places primed to grow.

Charleston has “some of the busiest and most efficient marine terminals on the Eastern seaboard,” and Charleston Harbor has the deepest channel — up to 48 feet — in the Southeast, the magazine said.

The magazine also noted the port’s investment in new and existing terminals, and that approximately 20 million square feet of industrial distribution space has been permitted in the area.

“Things will only get busier in Charleston,” the magazine said.

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