Owners of dragstrip, other property near Commerce plant racing to sell

Credit: Hand

Credit: Hand

With construction of a multibillion-dollar battery factory underway in North Georgia, the Atlanta Dragway and other property owners near the site anticipate that developers will soon be racing to snap up land.

South Korea’s SK Innovation is constructing a $2.6 billion plant on I-85 to make batteries for electric vehicles. Local officials expect SK’s suppliers will want to build facilities nearby, but there’s a limited amount of available land.

The Atlanta Dragway, a 318-acre site that’s owned by the National Hot Rod Association, is one of the properties nearby that’s for sale.

The pandemic forced the NHRA and NASCAR to cancel events and limit attendance in 2020, but the racing leagues plan to resume events with limited attendance. The Atlanta Dragway will host the NHRA’s Southern Nationals event March 26 to 28.

Other racetrack owners have already expressed interest in the Atlanta Dragway to maintain it as a racing venue, said Jamie Smithson, senior director at JLL Capital Markets, a commercial real estate brokerage representing the track’s owner.

“We are going to market this based on what the Banks County community wants to see there, and we are going to let the market dictate how it’s used,” Smithson said.

At least four other large sites nearby are also angling for buyers.

Credit: Hand

Credit: Hand

When the plant opens, the area will need more housing and retail for new employees expected to move in, said Charles Turk, chairman of the Banks County Commission.

“Our vision is to have a high technology manufacturing supercluster, along with mixed-use housing and commercial developments and sports complexes,” he said. The racetrack is located in Banks County.

The racetrack property is large enough that it could contain a mix of an industrial park, housing and shopping centers, Smithson said. Banks County lacks a supermarket, and many residents want one.

“The issue is that there aren’t a lot of industrial sites remaining that have sewer lines already in place with adequate capacity” to handle heavy users, said Jack Haden, an industrial real estate specialist at NAI Brannen Goddard.

Haden is representing Florida developer Joshua Schrager, who plans two industrial facilities on a 214-acre site near the battery plant. At least three other large sites are for sale nearby that could host industrial tenants, he said. One is a 144-acre site on U.S. Highway 129 near the New Salem 85 Logistics Center.

“There are lots of landowners here jockeying for position,” Smithson said.