FORSYTH — Two monument-style signs proclaiming Indian Springs Station sit at the entrances of an undeveloped subdivision off Indian Springs Drive in Forsyth.
The signs are hard to read. Tall weeds and bushes have taken hold in the 113-acre site that was designed for about 300 homes.
There are no homes there, but the roads are paved, water and sewer lines are in and cable and electric power lines are in the ground.
But a plan is in the works that will change everything.
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The Monroe County Development Authority has had its eyes on the property for more than a year, said Tiffany Andrews, executive director of the Development Authority of Monroe County and president/CEO of the Forsyth-Monroe County Chamber of Commerce.
The authority plans to develop the property into Indian Springs Business Park — the county’s first business park.
“It diversifies our portfolio,” Andrews said. “We’ve certainly had our industrial property and that’s it, and now it gives us some additional opportunities to expand and diversify the tax base. It’s very strategically located.”
The residential development never moved forward after the bank holding the loan was taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the developer, Jonesboro-based R&B Construction Inc., filed for bankruptcy, Andrews said. The loan was taken over by another bank, Louisiana-based Gulf Coast Bank and Trust and the property went into foreclosure.
The authority has signed a contract for the property and is doing its due diligence, Andrews said.
The phase one environmental process is complete and it came back clean, she said. Forsyth City Council agreed to rezone the property earlier this month from a residential district but it was contingent on the authority closing on the deal and on the results of a development of regional impact study by the Middle Georgia Regional Commission.
The authority was careful to get it rezoned properly, she said.
“We were very specific on what could and could not be done on that property,” she said. “You can’t actually put a manufacturing business there. What we traditionally put in our industrial parks you cannot put into this business park.”
The kind of businesses that would be acceptable in the park would be service-type companies such as call centers or a business that does light assembly “that does not require a smoke stack or outside storage,” she said.
The Regional Commission issued its finding Monday and determined the proposed project was “in the best interest of the region and therefore the state.”
According to the commission’s report, the estimated value would be $56 million when it’s completed and the estimated annual local tax revenues would be about $650,000.
The next step for the authority is to finalize a contract with the city regarding the utilities for the water and sewer, Andrews said. There were about 300 water and sewer taps installed for residential use and the business park won’t need that many and some will be closed off.
U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga., has requested $300,000 to be appropriated toward the project from the fiscal year 2011 budget.
“This is a valuable use of taxpayer funds because it will serve as a springboard for entrepreneurial and small business development, and will improve the corridor that bridges the Georgia Public Safety Training Center and the newly relocated Georgia Department of Corrections,” Marshall said in his request.
Monroe County Commission Chairman James Vaughn said the county already has a good mix of large industrial sites and smaller industrial sites, and the business park gives it another option.
“This will give us some small sites for processing and office space,” Vaughn said.
“It will give entrepreneurs a place to put up a small business.”
“It has the added benefit of taking something that could become a problem for the city and county in its current state ... and make it a good thing,” he said.
To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.