Bids will be opened this week on a project to pave two miles inside Augusta Corporate Park, opening up the 1,800-acre industrial property for its newest tenant – EdenCrete Industries Inc.
The concrete additives manufacturer announced in April it would build a $67 million factory and headquarters on more than 100 acres at the park, whose sole occupant is Starbucks Coffee Co.’s instant-beverage plant.
“It will be Starbucks on one end, EdenCrete on the other,” said Walter Sprouse, the executive director of the Richmond County Development Authority.
EdenCrete, the U.S. subsidiary of Australia-based Eden Energy Limited, has said it could employ up to 250 workers at the facility, which will produce carbon-fiber nanotubes used to strengthen concrete. The 2-year-old Starbucks plant, a $170 million investment, employs more than 100.
The extension of Valencia Way – named for the creator of the Starbucks VIA ready-brew product produced in Augusta – is part of a $2.5 million sales tax-funded project to build roads and rail at the south Augusta site.
Augusta-based Cranston Engineering Group is overseeing the road project and will open bids Wednesday. Actual work should begin this fall, Sprouse said. The 1,200-foot road now ends in front of the Starbucks property, but when completed will make a dogleg right into the property’s mostly wooded interior.
Sprouse said the road is engineered for four lanes but that, for the time being, only two will be paved to cut costs and reduce the amount of stormwater runoff that will be created. The other two lanes could easily be paved as more tenants move into the authority-owned park, situated on state Highway 56/Mike Padgett Highway near the Burke County line.
The authority also is exploring the possibility of selling timber. Sprouse told development authority board members during their meeting Thursday, that he is studying options with a local forester.
“If all those trees have got to go, we might as well sell them,” he said. “I don’t know that we’re going to make that much on it, but it will save us some money on the bid.”
EdenCrete President Roger Marmaro said the plant, which is expected to be 10 times larger than the one it operates in Colorado, could be open as early as 2019.
“We’re probably looking at 18 months before we break ground,” he said during a telephone interview Friday.
The plant will produce the nanotubes as well as the liquid mixture that enables the microscopic particles to be evenly distributed throughout concrete mixes. It will be shipped in bulk tractor trailer and rail tankers, as well as 275-gallon totes for smaller jobs.
The company says the additive strengthens the bond between cement particles, producing a concrete said to be 60 percent more abrasion-resistant and 40 percent stronger than concrete without the additive.
The Georgia Department of Transportation began using it after testing last year on Interstate 20 near the Augusta Welcome Center.
Marmaro says the additive also can be used on bridges, runways, industrial floors and high-rise buildings.
“The sky’s the limit,” he said.
Sprouse said a small portion of the sales tax funding will help pay to link Augusta Corporate Park’s southern end with a nearby Norfolk Southern rail line via one-mile track and rail switch.
Marmaro said the rail line will help the company sell globally through the port of Savannah.
“We’re fully planning to utilize all the incentives Georgia offered up,” Marmaro said. “That’s why we came there.”
Other infrastructure at the park includes high-speed fiber-optic lines. This month, the development authority and AT&T jointly announced the park has received the “AT&T Fiber Ready” designation.
AT&T Regional Director Stan Shepherd said in a statement that the company was honored its network will help the county market the rest of the site to prospective industry.