Annexation rejected for huge warehouse complex near Rivian plant

U.S. development firm with Russian ties sought to annex land into Madison for 2.4 million-square-foot distribution center
PNK Group was pursuing plans to build a 2.4-million-square-foot distribution center on the southern edge of the city of Madison. This is a screenshot of Google Earth, which has a red line showing the city limits of Madison.

Credit: Google Earth

Credit: Google Earth

PNK Group was pursuing plans to build a 2.4-million-square-foot distribution center on the southern edge of the city of Madison. This is a screenshot of Google Earth, which has a red line showing the city limits of Madison.

Local leaders in a small city east of Atlanta stalled plans for a massive distribution center in one of the state’s fast-growing industrial hubs along I-20.

The Madison City Council last week voted 4-1 to deny an annexation and rezoning request related to a 2.4 million-square-foot warehouse complex. The project was proposed by a subsidiary of PNK Group, a U.S. development firm affiliated with a Russian industrial developer. The project was in its early planning phases, according to state filings, and wanted Madison officials to annex 215 acres into the city of fewer than 5,000 residents.

Discussion on the vote, which was first reported by the Morgan County Citizen, focused on tensions among rural residents along the fast-developing industrial corridor. Within 15 miles of Madison, lie the site of Rivian’s future $5 billion electric vehicle factory and the Stanton Springs industrial park, both of which have attracted heightened interest from warehouse and logistics developers while sparking some local pushback.

“I think the way Madison is developed is the reason we all want to live here,” said City Councilman Eric Joyce, according to the Citizen.

Councilman Ed Lantham, the sole dissenting vote Nov. 13, said he was worried property taxes might have to increase if the developer was turned away.

“Tourism won’t pay the bills. Agriculture won’t pay the bills. Residential won’t pay the bills,” Lantham was quoted as saying ahead of the vote. “If we vote this down, I am going on the record and let you know taxes are going to go up.”

PNK Group, which did not respond to requests for comment, has developed industrial parks in Georgia before, including in McDonough and near Savannah. Since 2022, the company has filed state infrastructure analyses for three other distribution centers, which have emerged as one of the state’s hottest uses for industrial land following the COVID-19 pandemic.

PNK Group was founded in Russia about 20 years ago and entered the U.S. market in 2017, according to an archived version of its website. Two entities with identical PNK Group logos exist today, one based in Russia and another with operations in Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania and with a home office in New York. The U.S. company also lists business dealings in Slovakia.

The project site near Madison was purchased by a company called I-20 & 83 SE LLC in February 2020 for nearly $2.2 million, according to county property records. A company called MS Park Construction LLC was the applicant for the annexation and subsequent rezoning.

The site is an expanse of undeveloped forest between Ga. 83 and Indian Creek Road that is bisected by railroad tracks and a stream known as Fourmile Branch.

Mike Conrads, the property owner, wanted to annex the property into Madison to get all 340 acres of the site under one jurisdiction before selling it to the developer. Conrads said he would work with city officials on next steps and what is possible for the site, the Citizen reported.

Rivian’s proposed factory, the state’s second largest economic development project, has been subject to multiple lawsuits from some of its neighbors over zoning, environmental concerns and financial incentives. Rivian expects to soon begin vertical construction on the plant. Cox Enterprises, the owner of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, also owns about a 4% stake in Rivian.

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