Water, sewer commission hears its role in bringing the Connexial Center on-line
State and local economic developers are lining up infrastructure for Laurens County’s new industrial park. On July 24, the Laurens County Water and Sewer Commission board was brought on-board.
Jon Coleman, LCDC executive director, described for the board the new Connexial Center, envisioned for an area off I-385 at Friendship Church Road. Long-term, Coleman said, the SC Department of Transportation will be asked to install a new exit-entrance ramp, Exit 22, but that cost is an estimated $25 million - $35 million. The proposal will undergo a $1.6 million study first, Coleman said.
LCWSC will be responsible for 9,000 ft of 12-inch water line into the Connexial Center, and installation and operation of a sewer pump station. A second sewer pump station is drawn into the plants for future if-needed installation.
Coleman said the Laurens Electric Cooperative bought the land for $4.5 million, with a $3.5 million appropriation from the SC Power Team and $1 million from the LCDC, the county’s designated economic development agency.
Jeff Field is chairman of the LCDC board, and general manager of the LSWSC.
“It’s an opportunity for us to sell more water and sewer where we have capacity,” he said.
Board Vice-chairman Bill Teague asked when the commission board was going to have a vote concerning the project.
Field said that would happen when LCWSC applies for a RIA (rural infrastructure authority) grant for the water lines. Grant funds also are envisioned for the sewer system, so LCWSC rate-payers will not foot the bill for either project.
Teague said the Laurens Electric Coop, as a private business, is developing the business center to attract rate-paying manufacturing customers. “They are a business. We are a business, too,” he said.
Board Chairman Ted Davenport said the Connexial Center looks like “a win-win” for the Coop and the commission.
Field said LCWSC staff has reviewed design and sizing for the pump stations. He said as the commission’s representative on the LCDC board, he also has been involved in the economic development discussions.
At built-out, Coleman said, the Connexial Center could accommodate 3 million sq ft of manufacturing space. A private developer already has expressed interest in building a 150,000 - 200,000 sq ft spec building that will be seen from I-385. Duke Power will sell electricity to the Coop to sell to tenants in the business center; LCWSC will provide water and sewer services; and Clinton-Newberry Natural Gas Authority will be the natural gas provider.
“It’s exciting,” Coleman said.
Major upgrades are needed for roads in this area of northern Laurens County, Coleman said. The area is not far from the Hwy 14 turn-off to ZF Transmissions, and Coleman said that road bottle-necks twice a day. SC DOT will have to first issue a “justification report” if the idea of a new I-385 interchange moves forward. Developers have applied for a DOT “daylighting permit” that will allow tree-cutting so the industrial park can be seen from the interstate. The Connexial Center is undergoing final design phase, with construction bidding expected the second and third weeks of August, and dirt-moving by mid-September.
The project is being designed by Thomas & Hutton.
LCWSC will apply for the water lines grant after it closes out a sewer project for Mogul Industries in Gray Court. The project is 90% complete, Field said, and later could provide sewer service to Gray Court-Owings School. Underground electricity is being provided to the sewer lift station.
The commission’s Lake Greenwood water treatment plant will be 60% design complete by Aug. 24. LCWSC representatives will travel to Tampa/Orlando Aug. 8 and 9 to look at ozone injection systems that could be installed at the Lake Greenwood water treatment plant.
By the end of March, a notice to proceed could be issued to Harper Construction, Field said. Completion is expected in March, 2021 - ahead of the USDA (department of agriculture) grant requirement of September, 2021 for full completion and operation of the new water treatment plant. There will be an entry road off Hwy 221, and board members viewed architectural renderings of what Field called “a very compact site.”