A decision by the Holly Springs Town Council Tuesday put the Holly Springs Business Park in a position to expand to 200 acres in the future with the goal of making it a more desirable destination for new businesses.
The park is now a 140-acre site with only small scattered parcels remaining unoccupied. The Town Council approved zoning five parcels – about 60 acres off N.C. 55 bypass between the business park and Holly Springs-New Hill Road – to allow for light manufacturing and processing facilities.
“You can get a significant economic development project on that site,” said Gina Clapp, the town’s planning and zoning director. “The tax base that would be provided to the town could be a very big, positive impact, as well as the number of jobs, which could be offered on that property.”
Last year, the N.C. Department of Commerce announced that Holly Springs led all Wake County municipalities in job growth from 2010 to 2015 – employing 26 percent more people over that five-year period.
And Holly Springs officials and staff want to continue seeing that success by attracting and retaining businesses that will create more jobs.
“I think this site will be a huge asset, not just to Holly Springs but to Wake County and the region,” said Irena Krstanovic, the town’s economic development coordinator, about the expanded Holly Springs Business Park.
The Holly Springs Business Park already is home to more than 20 companies, with the largest being Seqirus, the second largest influenza vaccine company in the world. RoviSys, an automation and information solutions company, recently announced that it would locate in the business park, creating 200 to 250 jobs in the next five to 10 years.
The larger site would give the town a competitive advantage, staff said, because it would be the only state-certified, shovel-ready site of this size in Wake County.
“This 200-acre site would provide and really increase the available land portfolio for us, for the town – from smaller, scattered parcels in the Holly Springs Business Park to a 200-acre single site,” Krstanovic said.
Some of the selling points of the business park, besides its size, are its proximity to the Triangle Expressway, Research Triangle Park, Raleigh-Durham International Airport, as well as access to Wake County’s workforce and town utilities.
The town’s other large economic development site – the 130-acre Friendship Site, which is adjacent to U.S.1 – does not have access to town water and sewer.
The town’s schools, parks and low crime rate further boost the business park’s attraction to potential companies, staff said.
“That’s definitely all of the advantages that we utilize and market when we are working with the client,” Krstanovic said.
One of the biggest draws, however, is that the town’s economic development department is seeking to have the additional 60 acres state-certified with the cooperation of the land owners – a task the department already completed on the original 140 acres earlier this year.
The state certification process requires going through numerous studies in order to deem the sites shovel ready.
“When you are working with clients that are looking (for property) ... what often eliminates you from getting short listed is if you have a lot of unknowns,” Krstanovic said.
These studies put the town “one step further” by providing the answers to many of the questions potential businesses may have about the site.
Property owners’ concern
The council’s decision came after the Wake County Board of Commissioners granted an extension of Holly Springs’ extraterritorial jurisdiction – adding 6,125 acres, including these parcels – effective June 17. The town was responsible for assigning a zoning designation to the properties before this date.
While the default designation is R-30, which allows for rural residential development, the council chose to go with a research and technology designation for those five parcels to allow for the future business park expansion.
“I think that’s the best decision for everybody concerned,” said councilwoman Linda Hunt Williams. “Those five properties are absolutely needed.”
But town staff said they had heard some concerns from the owners of those properties about changing the zoning from one that would allow for homes to one that would allow for industry.
Town Manager Chuck Simmons said one concern is that their properties would not sell as quickly if zoned for something other than residential.
“I believe four of those five parcels are actively being listed for sale,” he said. “I would imagine it would go for a better price if it went for a business-type use as opposed to residential where they have no water and sewer.
Williams said she believed having residential property next to an already existing business park also may lessen the value of their properties.
“I don’t know too many people that would want to live between all these factories,” she said.
The Town Council also:
▪ Approved the fiscal year 2016-17 budget. It includes a slight decrease in property taxes to the revenue neutral tax rate of 43.25 cents per $100 valuation from 43.5 cents because of Wake County revaluations.
▪ Decided not to take action on a resident request to remove no parking signs on Stinson Avenue.
▪ Approved a development plan for a new office and warehouse building at 300 Green Oaks Parkway. The 60,000-square-foot building will house 17,000 square feet of office space and 43,000 square feet of warehouse area.
▪ Approved a municipal agreement with the N.C. Department of Transportation for $1.7 million in additional funding for the Main Street Extension and Avent Ferry Road intersection projects.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608, @ktrogdon