Construction of distribution warehouse planned for site near I-20's Exit 22

Aug. 7—The construction of a distribution warehouse is included in the plans for land that is under contract to be sold near Exit 22 on Interstate 20.

There also will be commercial development on the roughly 17-acre site, said Mike McNeill, co-owner of the Coward & McNeill real estate firm, during an interview with the Aiken Standard recently.

The property is near the corner of Columbia Highway North, which also is known as U.S. Route 1, and Windham Boulevard.

SEC Realty Inc. owns the parcel, according to Aiken County land records.

McNeill said the prospective buyer is a developer, but declined to provide any other information about the potential purchaser or the price being asked for the property.

The deal is scheduled close next year in late January or early February.

"We are going to be assisting the developer with what is essentially a planned commercial/planned industrial development project," McNeill said.

The distribution warehouse will be built on an approximately 12.5-acre section of the land located behind the tract's frontage along Columbia Highway North.

"We are still working with the engineers in order to determine precisely what's going to be the best use of that portion of the site," McNeill said. "That's why we have a range of square footage at the moment. There are all kinds of different aspects to a distribution warehouse that you have to consider."

He added that demand for warehouses locally near I-20 is the reason for the decision to build the facility.

"We've identified with help from Will Williams of the Economic Development Partnership (of Aiken, Edgefield, McCormick and Saluda counties) and direct contacts with people through Coward & McNeill that there is a serious need for warehouses," McNeill said.

And the search for a tenant might not last long.

"There is a potential one out there, but they don't want to be known yet," McNeill said. "The developer is in communication at a certain level with them through a contact.

"So we may have a tenant, but we may also be looking for a tenant," he continued. "We're not certain as of today, but we have absolutely established that there is a need without question."

As a result, "we're not afraid to step out there speculatively if it (the interest expressed by the potential lessee) dries up," McNeill concluded.

Two tenants could share the warehouse, he said.

McNeill wasn't sure exactly when the construction of the facility would begin.

"It's tricky," McNeill said. "It could be as short as four months to as much as, possibly, a year before dirt is being moved because there is a lot of site engineering involved. There is some topography out there to deal with and stuff, and we want to use that to our advantage as much as possible for things like docking."

The remaining property with frontage along Columbia Highway North will be made available for commercial development.

There could be one parcel in that section or maybe two.

"The uses for locations such as this typically require more than an acre," McNeill said. "They typically require a minimum of two."

The businesses that might be built on the site include a motel, a small grocery store, a convenience store, a quick service restaurant and a sit-down restaurant.

"We have one development group looking at one of the potential parcels, but there haven't been any hard negotiations yet," McNeill said.

Earlier this summer, McNeill described the Exit 22 area as being "on the edge right now of seeing very dynamic and significant growth."

Using $7.4 million in state, federal and local funds, the City of Aiken has made improvements and additions to the water and sewer systems near the interchange during the last several years.

In 2021, Shaw Industries Group Inc., a leading global flooring supplier, announced plans to invest approximately $400 million to expand its operations in Aiken County on East Frontage Road close to Exit 22.

Set for completion at the end of 2024, the expansion will create more than 300 new jobs.

There also have been upgrades to other existing businesses.

A new and much larger Circle K on Columbia Highway North has replaced an older version of the convenience store and gas station.

The Waffle House near Exit 22 reopened in June after undergoing a major renovation.