Kingsboro site draws rising interest


Staff Writer

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

After marketing the Kingsboro Industrial Park as a site for industry for nearly two decades, the Carolinas Gateway Partnership is changing direction.

“As we talked with prospects about a variety of options, it became clear that what Kingsboro is heading toward is a multi-use development,” partnership President and CEO Norris Tolson said. “So we’ve started marketing it as the Kingsboro Business Park.”

Both Tolson and partnership Vice President Oppie Jordan said the response has been strong.

“It’s been tremendous,” Tolson said.

He said in addition to solid industrial prospects, such as the steel cable supplier for Triangle Tire, other non-industrial prospects are emerging.

“We reserved 20 acres at the Kingsboro exit for a travel plaza-type operation and we’ve gotten strong interest in that location,” he said.

Tolson said that as he and Jordan have talked with prospects, they have told them they wanted them to think outside the box as they developed their proposals.

“We’ve seen some interesting concepts,” Tolson said.

Tolson said there also has been interest from lodging chains and that two sites have been identified — one a traveler-type facility nearer to the Kingsboro exit and the second a suites-type facility nearer U.S. 64 Alt. and between Corning and Triangle.

“We’ve also had interest from multi-use developers as well as developers talking about building apartments and condos,” he said.

Tolson said the housing interest is vital.

“Currently, we have something less than 400 units (available) in Edgecombe and Nash counties and we’re already behind. We have one developer who has asked about land west of Kingsboro and is talking about building houses that would serve that (manufacturing employee) market … 1,500 to 2,000 square feet,” he said. “We also (are) encouraged that a couple of people are looking at (two- and three-bedroom) apartment complexes and garden duplexes (nearer to Corning).”

Tolson said the possibility of mixed-use developments, including office buildings, also exist.

Counting QVC, Corning and Triangle, Tolson said, “We’re looking at something like 4,000 or more people out there and eating options are limited, so we started asking for proposals from potential operators ... again, asking to think out of the box.”

Tolson said they could not be more pleased with what prospects have provided.

He cited one “food plaza” made up of shipping containers. The containers were arranged around the property with seating areas and areas for workers to relax while on a meal break.

“He even included an amphitheater,” Tolson said. “I don’t know that we would ever have an amphitheater, but it is the kind of out-of-the-box thinking we are looking for.”

Tolson said once the training facility, to be located at the corner of Harts Mill Run Road and U.S. 64 Alt is operational, “There’s going to be a lot of high-tech going on and we want to be on the cutting edge at Kingsboro.”

The new approach to Kingsboro is so out-of-the box that Tolson said there even has been discussion about developing the area north of the park that runs along the Tar River as an ecotourism site.

“Why not canoe rentals and tours on the river?” he asked. “There is a lot of activity on the river, so why not look at ways to incorporate it near the park?”

He said he wants to be able to offer enough amenities and site benefits that it simply would not make sense to not locate in the Kingsboro Business Park.

He also is quick to point out that all of the activity in the county is tied to one thing — the decision by CSX to build its CSX Connector container freight facility in Rocky Mount.

“That opened the door to the world for us,” he said. “The day after we announced CSX, our phones started ringing and people were asking, ‘Where’s Edgecombe County?’ And it’s all because of CSX.”