How will the next three years of the I-85/I-385 construction affect Upstate development?
During the construction, new development – especially among suppliers servicing BMW – could be driven eastward to avoid traffic problems, according to Brockton Hall, who works on the Colliers International industrial team.
Hall said the area between Pelham Road and U.S. Route 29 is already the “sweet spot” for suppliers.
The construction won’t cause businesses that are already locked into long-term leases or own their own facilities to move, he said, but it would have an impact on new supplies coming to the market.
“If you’re targeting BMW, that’s going to be a worry for a lot of new manufacturing companies,” Hall said.
But the interchange construction isn’t the only factor driving where future development will go in the Upstate. With the Volvo plant starting in Charleston, many businesses will want ease of access to I-26, though many will look to locate close to BMW, Hall said. He also mentioned that some tier one suppliers – companies that supply directly to original-equipment manufacturers like BMW – are expanding their operations to accommodate Volvo.
Until Volvo gets large size and production values, suppliers will still mainly focus on the Upstate instead of locating downstate, he said.
“I believe you will see many of the BMW suppliers expand their existing facilities in the Upstate versus building a new facility in Charleston until Volvo’s production volume increases to a point where it makes sense,” Hall said.
Greenville Area Development Corporation (GADC) President and CEO Mark Farris has a different take on how the interchange construction will affect development in Greenville.
He said he doesn’t anticipate the construction to affect where businesses choose to locate. GADC works in the areas of manufacturing, distribution and office spaces.
“Companies don’t make decisions based on short-term inconveniences,” Farris said.
GADC usually works with companies for at least a year before they commit to locating in Greenville, and by that time, most of the construction will be over, he said. The bigger issue in recruiting companies to Greenville would have been if nothing had been done fix the interchange, Farris said. “We are constrained as far as manufacturers because of the [current] infrastructure.”
He said a recent area development survey showed that transportation ranked second under labor availability for top concerns businesses had when locating somewhere.
SCDOT Secretary Christy Hall said the interchange currently handles 220,000 vehicles daily. But with the changes that SCDOT is making, she said, the interchange will have the capacity to handle 350,000 vehicles daily.
The $231 million project will include adding a fourth northbound and southbound lane on I-85 between I-385 and Pelham Road. I-385 will widen from four lanes to six lanes from Butler Road to Roper Mountain Road. Crews will construct 11 new bridges. They will also enhance traffic signal coordination and improve three intersections on Woodruff Road.
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