COVINGTON, Ga. — County planning commissioners said they wanted more information before approving a rezoning for a planned warehouse along I-20 Jan. 26.
The Newton County Planning Commission delayed action on a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners about the request from Alpharetta-based Native Development Group for rezoning from residential to light industrial for a 32-acre site fronting I-20 near the Rockdale County line.
Native Development is planning a 372,000-square-foot warehouse on the site on Dogwood Drive at Almon Road’s I-20 overpass, facing the planned site of German supermarket operator Lidl’s regional distribution center.
Commissioners heard complaints from former Newton County commissioner LeAnne Long about the proposed warehouse — which does not yet have a tenant — possibly joining other empty warehouses fronting I-20 in both Newton and Rockdale.
Long, who works as a commercial real estate agent, warned commissioners about the project because she said she knew of many speculative warehouse ventures in the same area that have remained vacant in recent months.
Joseph McGorrey of Native Development Group said the same I-20 corridor in both counties had “become very popular” and noted department store chain T.J. Maxx recently leased a 400,000-square-foot warehouse in Rockdale.
McGorrey said he has developed similar projects throughout metro Atlanta and said warehouse spaces “have leased very rapidly.”
Atlanta historically has been a “build it and they will come” real estate market — and predicted his warehouse would find a major tenant within six months.
Warehousing “probably has been the brightest spot” for commercial developers during the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, McGorrey said.
“I wouldn’t want to be building an office building right now,” he said.
Long said she believed the planning commission should table — delay action — the request until the planning staff can obtain information about the warehouse vacancy rate from Rockdale County officials.
New commissioner Ronnie Glover of District 3 then moved to table action on the request until the February meeting. He cited his concerns about lack of a tenant and access to the building off Almon Road.