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The search for warehouse space in Bulloch

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Posted: March 11, 2007 12:28 p.m.
Updated: March 27, 2007 5:00 a.m.
    I heard a rumor this week that led me to an interesting topic – warehouse space. The rumor involved the Wal-Mart Distribution Center in the Gateway Industrial Park on Highway 301 South.
    It proved true that Wal-Mart Distribution is no longer using one of the two 300,000-square-foot warehouses it leases in the industrial park. Even though they still operate 2.5 million square feet of space, it still concerned me a little bit. Clearly, it is beneficial to our county when industry expands, not contracts.
    Is the warehouse going to sit empty and unused  Local Wal-Mart officials would not go on record with an answer to that question. However, since they appear to be obligated through a lease arrangement to pay for the space, one might assume that if they aren't going to use it, then they might try and sublease it.
    This brings me back to my topic – warehouse space. How much available warehouse space do we have in Bulloch County and is there a demand for it?
    If you ask Peggy Chapman, executive director of the Development Authority of Bulloch County, she will tell you very quickly that we have very little available warehouse space (with the exception possibly of the Wal-Mart space coming available), and yes, there is a tremendous demand for it.
    "I get calls every week for 25,000 to 200,000 square feet of warehouse space," Chapman said. "Most of the calls are coming from out-of-state. They want space for distribution and small manufacturing."
    "It's a double edged sword," she said. "It is good in that the vast majority of warehouse space in this area is rented. It is bad in that we have no space to offer. It is hard to attract new companies to our area, because we do not have significant warehousing space available.”
    Chapman said her staff is constantly monitoring available space in the area so as to be able to respond to requests.
    "When I tell people that we have legitimate requests for warehouse space, I am serious," she said. "Please let us know. Of course we will need specifics regarding it, but any space that is available, we would like to know about it.
    As far as Wal-Mart and the empty warehouse in the industrial park are concerned, Chapman seemed to believe if Wal-Mart decides to sublease the space there would be a significant amount of interest in it.
    "If Wal-Mart decides not to use it for an extended period of time, I really think they wouldn't have a tremendous problem leasing it to another company," she said. "Based on the calls and requests we have had, I know the demand is there.”
    Until next week, I bid adieu.
    Got a scoop for Jan? Call her at (912) 489-9463 or e-mail her at jmoore@statesboroherald.net

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