Havelock is exploring the concept of creating a new business park northwest of the city that would serve Cherry Point and the port at Morehead City.
The city’s current business park off Fontana Boulevard is nearly full. Only one 6.75-acre plot in the park on Outer Banks Drive remains unoccupied. The city developed the park in the early 1990s in conjunction with the Havelock Regional Development Corporation, which owns the property.
“It’s been 20 years and in 20 years we’re now down to one lot,” Havelock Mayor Jimmy Sanders said. “It was a good location at the time and it served us well.”
Sanders said the old park cannot be expanded, and because it is located on the two-lane road, access is limited.
“Being down 101, first off we don’t have anywhere to grow down there,” he said. “Secondly, if we want to expand, let’s expand where we have access to the railway and where we have access to super 70.”
Commissioner Will Lewis, who is mayor-elect, said the old business park’s location has been a problem.
“We’ve had a lot of opportunities missed because there’s one way in and one way out,” he said. “It doesn’t have a stoplight. The road is relatively small.”
The idea of creating a business/industrial park on the west end of the city has been kicked around for a couple of years now. The city originally had planned to construct a business park on land near the proposed U.S. 70 bypass, but the state objected, Sanders said.
“The idea was good. The location was not,” he said. “DOT really was not supportive of that location. They were supportive of the idea. They are supportive of the concept. They were not supportive of the location.”
Sanders said that the city is pursuing purchase of land northwest of the city for the park. Lewis said the locations are 300 to 400 acres large. Neither would say exactly which properties were being considered as the city was in negotiations for the purchase.
“We’ve looked at several properties and we’re negotiating with some folks as we speak on how to put something together,” said Danny Walsh, a Havelock commissioner who is a board member of the Havelock Regional Development Corporation.
Walsh said that city tax money would not be used to purchase the property, that instead it would come from the corporation, which has money in the bank from the sale of property in the original industrial park.
Lewis said an industrial park would help Havelock’s economic diversity and help the port at Morehead City.
“The port at Morehead City is landlocked and has nowhere to grow and yet they need to grow,” he said. “If the port wants to expand, they need somewhere inland to operate. With this potential site, we’ll have railroad access and Highway 70 access and request a light. Whether we get one or not is another thing.”
Walsh said the park could act as an “inland port” that could help in transporting loads to and from the port at Morehead City.
Working to support port transport is part of the goal, Lewis said.
“If a company was going to ship something to the port and they needed someplace to drop it off that was secure and they needed four acres and 100,000 square feet, right now Havelock’s not an option,” Lewis said. “We’re not even prepared for that. I think that having a plan on what we would do economic development-wise with a park would give us that opportunity.”
The park could also support Cherry Point.
“They only take trucks at the base at certain times of the day,” Lewis said. “We could offer a secure parking area where these people can only be three miles from the gate. They can park inside the fence. They know that they’re safe. Their cargo is safe, they can park, sleep and get up the next morning and head to the base. So that’s a way that this project will strengthen our relationship with the base.”
The plan would be for the park to be located west of the proposed U.S. 70 bypass, but Sanders, Lewis and Walsh all agreed that the idea is very early in the planning stages.
“Putting a plan together between the port, the rail, the state, the city, the land owners and everybody involved takes a lot of planning and that’s where we’re at right now,” Walsh said. “We’re in the planning stages. The difference is that we’re prepared. We have the money. We have water and sewage capacity. All we have to do is put it together now.”