Face-lift for Batesburg-Leesville industrial area

A long-wanted face-lift is starting at an industrial area in Batesburg-Leesville.

After a 13-year wait, Lexington County and town leaders are adding roads, water and sewer at the 176-acre tract on the east edge of the community.

“It’s been a long haul to get to where we are,” town Mayor Rita Crapps said.

The improvements should be complete by Dec. 31, officials said.

It’s not clear how long it will take the $4 million project to produce a payoff, but Crapps predicted “somebody will bite the hook” once the facilities are ready.

Adding the improvements is vital to attract jobs to the town of 5,400 residents. Companies looking to expand want parcels that can be used quickly instead of waiting for roads and utilities to be brought in, officials say.

“It’s had looks but it needs to have adequate infrastructure,” said Chuck Whipple, county economic development director.

Town leaders are borrowing $2 million to install water and sewers, a step Crapps said doesn’t require raising taxes or local utility bills. County leaders are ready to use $2 million set aside in fall 2012 for roads on the tract.

The area is off the beaten path for commercial development, located 10 miles north of I-20 in the rural western edge of the county. It’s the oldest of three sites county officials are developing for new industry, with tax gains from each area divided among schools across the county.

Only an industrial basin manufacturer has located in Batesburg-Leesville site during the 16 years its has been open.

Town officials expect a dozen companies – mainly small manufacturers and warehouses – to call the area home eventually.

A slice of the site could be converted into a spot for recreation.

Town leaders hope to make a 6-acre pond on its edge a park open to employees and residents.

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