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with graphic .. aerial photo from andy

By Jessie Burchette
Salisbury Post
The Keith Corporation of Charlotte will likely get a 90-day extension to complete the purchase of two tracts of land in the county-owned Summit Corporate Center.
And the company, which previously had a marketing contract for all of the industrial park, has provided the county with detailed plans for two speculative buildings it wants to construct in the corporate park.
In a letter to County Attorney Jay Dees, company officials touted efforts to bring a Fortune 500 company to the park that could bring an investment of $20 million and employ 150 people at the outset. The unnamed company is apparently shopping the project through a national site consultant.
Keith Corporation submitted a plan to build a 175,000-square-foot building, expandable to 335,000 square feet, on the 34-acre tract near the Duke Energy property.
Dees recommends the county extend the Feb. 28 closing deadline by 90 days to allow advertising and conduct a public hearing.
The purchase price is $28,500 per acre. The tracts are listed as 34 acres and nine acres. The total sale price is estimated at $1.2 million.
Dees said Thursday that state laws regarding the sale of publicly owned property require a public hearing. He added that a hearing should have been held when the county approved the initial agreement with the Keith Corporation in August 2004, but there is no record a hearing was held. So he is recommending a hearing and approval of the sale by the current board of commissioners.
Under the agreement, Keith Corporation must start construction of a building on each tract within two years. If the company does not, the county can buy the property back at the original sale price.
In addition, Keith Corporation cannot sell the property to a third party without offering it to the county at the original price.
In the letter to the county, a Keith official wrote that the company does not plan to speculate.
“Our intent is to develop the property consistent with the covenants, which will, in turn, increase the tax base of Rowan County and create new jobs for its citizens. Our projects will also be consistent with the high quality design we implemented with the Square D building,” the company official wrote.
Square D leases its building in Summit Corporate Center from Keith Corporation.
County commissioners opted not to renew the marketing contract with Keith Corporation, concerned over the lack of success. And commissioners expressed concern over the numerous other marketing agreements the company has with counties and municipalities throughout the region.
Last month, Keith signed a deal with the city of of Statesville to market its 114-acre Statesville Business Park off U.S. 70 east of Interstate 77.
According to the Charlotte Business Journal, Keith also has contracts with Lincoln County and is credited with bringing $372 million in investment and nearly 3,000 jobs to that county since 2000.
Keith also signed an agreement in December with Johnston County for development of a 340-acre park on Interstate 95.
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to vote Monday night on extending the closing deadline and setting a public hearing. The board meets at 7 p.m. Monday in the J. Newton Cohen Sr. Meeting Room, County Administrative Offices Building, 130 W. Innes St.
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Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or jburchette@salisburypost.com.

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