Hardeeville to consider mixed-use development on 2,000-acre tract

Developers are scheduled to seek permission tonight to build an almost 2,000-acre mixed-use development in southern Jasper County.

The development would be annexed into Hardeeville and include industrial, warehousing and distribution businesses, city manager Carey Smith said.

Construction is not imminent, but the developers' request is a sign their plans for the property are coming into focus, Smith said.

The developers could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.

The Savannah-Hardeeville Tract, which includes about 1,300 upland acres, is east of U.S. 17 near the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and RiverPort, a similar planned development of 5,000 acres.

City Council is scheduled to consider on first reading tonight annexing the property, zoning it as a planned development district and approving a development agreement with the property owners.

The city began to annex some of the tract in 2007 and approved the zoning and development agreement on a first reading last week, but all parcels weren't included so the process will start over tonight, Smith said.

The development would include residential construction; office and retail areas; and industrial, manufacturing and distribution uses, according to an executive summary of the agreement.

The agreement requires the developers to devote at least 100 acres to industrial and commercial uses.

It also would increase the amount of residential construction allowed on the tract to more than 4,300 homes. The county has zoned the land for rural preservation, which allows one unit per acre and does not permit industrial uses.

Smith said city officials are excited developers plan to add more industrial, warehousing and distribution space. He noted that demand for new homes remains low.

"The housing market is still very depressed, but other areas of economic development may not be in the same boat," he said.