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Cockram: Parks will not compete
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This is the intersection of Berry HIll Road and U.S. 58. The road leads to the industrial park under construction. (Bulletin photo)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Two industrial parks being developed in Southside Virginia will not compete with one another because they are intended to attract different sized companies, according to a regional economic developer.

The larger Berry Hill Road Industrial Park in Pittsylvania County is intended for companies in need of larger buildings than the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre in Henry County could hold, said Southern Virginia Regional Alliance (SVRA) Executive Director Leigh Cockram.

No lots at Berry Hill or Commonwealth Crossing have been developed.

Commonwealth Crossing, on U.S. 220 South near the North Carolina line, is stalled because of problems local officials have had in getting a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needed for site development.

However, Cockram said Commonwealth Crossing is further along than Berry Hill, off Virginia 863 (Berry Hill Road) near the Bachelor’s Hall community just west of Danville.

Both sites have water/sewer access but electrical substations likely would not be built at either until a company decides to locate there, Cockram said.

A master plan has been developed for Commonwealth Crossing; Berry Hill does not have one yet, she said.

Their statuses are hindering their development, she mentioned, because in choosing locations, “companies are looking for sites ready to go.”

Berry Hill is the largest industrial park in Virginia and the fifth largest on the East Coast. Covering a total of 3,500 acres, economic developers describe it as a “mega park” — one with at least 1,000 contiguous acres, Cockram said. Its largest lot covers 1,296 acres, with 604 capable of being built on.

In comparison, Commonwealth Crossing covers a total of 726 acres, and its largest lot covers 297 acres, including a 200-acre buildable “pad,” according to information on the SVRA’s website.

Cockram said Berry Hill’s ability to attract a company needing more space than Commonwealth Crossing could supply basically is “the only difference” between the two parks.

The Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. and equivalent agencies in Danville and Pittsylvania County are “being very strategic” in the types of companies they recruit to those parks, Cockram said.

That is because they want to recruit companies that will use most of the pad space on lots so that land is not wasted, she said. Both localities have smaller tracts at other places, such as the Patriot Centre industrial park in Henry County, that can accommodate smaller companies, she added.

Whether economic developers would ever allow a smaller-sized company to locate at either Commonwealth Crossing or Berry Hill would be their decision — the SVRA just markets the region and is not involved in sealing deals with companies, Cockram said. (See related story.)

Cockram is optimistic that companies eventually will locate in both parks, largely due to their locations.

According to economic developers, many companies prefer to locate on or near interstate highways for easier travel by large trucks that ship their products or deliver their materials.

The closest interstates to Commonwealth Crossing and Berry Hill are 34 to 50 miles away. Still, Commonwealth Crossing is along U.S. 220, and Berry Hill is five miles from U.S. 58. Both 220 and 58 are four-lane, divided highways.

Cockram said those highways “in some cases are better than interstates” due to their lack of traffic congestion, a factor that could entice distribution-related companies.

Commonwealth Crossing also is 33 miles from the Piedmont Triad International Airport and the FedEx facility nearby.


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