Clayton County grants h.h. gregg 50 percent tax abatement for new distribution center

Clayton County commissioners issued a proclamation honoring h.h. gregg to thank the company for operating a store and a distribution center in the county Tuesday. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

Clayton County commissioners issued a proclamation honoring h.h. gregg to thank the company for operating a store and a distribution center in the county Tuesday. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

JONESBORO — Appliance retailer h.h. gregg will receive an abatement of 50 percent off the annual property taxes for its new distribution center because it agreed to stay in the county.

Clayton County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to grant the retailer a 10-year abatement on its property taxes for the site of the new center as long as h.h. gregg owns it. The site is on part of a nearly 50-acre parcel of land located near the intersection of I-675 and Anvil Block Road in Ellenwood.

The abatement will be administered to Duke Realty Ltd. Partnership, which is the developer who owns the land. Duke will lease the land to h.h. gregg with permission to build on the site, and it will pass the abatement onto the retailer through reduced common area maintenance fees, said county Economic Development Director Grant Wainscott.

Between work done by Duke and h.h. gregg, the facility will represent an $18 million investment in the county, although Wainscott said the retailer’s portion will be $16 million, said Wainscott.

“The abatement is necessary to win the business for Clayton County,” he wrote in a legislative request to commissioners. “Not only will we be saving the 100 current jobs from leaving, we will be adding $16 million in new investment to the tax roles, and providing for the growth of the tenant to include new jobs and investment in the future.”

County officials, including Wainscott and Commissioner Sonna Singleton — who represents that area — worked to convince the company to stay in the area. Singleton helped move the plan through some of the steps needed to be gone through, such as zoning, to make the project happen, said Wainscott.

“That project happened in large part because of Commissioner Singleton’s support,” he said.

Wainscott and Clayton County Chairman Jeff Turner said h.h. gregg’s decision was a coup for the county because other communities had been trying to lure the distribution center away.

The economic development director refused to publicly name which communities had pursued the company. However, he did say one of them was a “neighboring county” to which Clayton County has lost several businesses in recent years.

Between the existing distribution center and a store in Morrow, h.h. gregg employs about 200 people in Clayton County, said Wainscott.

Turner said he expects the company’s decision will bring additional jobs and economic development opportunities to the Ellenwood area. He also said he wants other business in the county to take notice of h.h. gregg’s decision and stay in the county as well.

“They had two or three other sites that they were considering and they decided that Clayton County was the best option for them and I hope that other companies can have that mindset as well,” said Turner.

A carrot used by Clayton County to keep h.h. gregg was an abatement of property taxes on the site where the new distribution center is to be built. However, the abatement was officially given to Duke Realty Ltd. Partnership, which is working with h.h. gregg on the facility.

County documents show the county is forgoing $477,184 in taxes for the county and school system over the 10-year period by agreeing to the abatement. However, the documents also show the county is still expected to collect $2.05 million in new taxes during that time by having the facility on that site.

The abatement was negotiated under the code name “Project Flat Screen” to keep information about the deal from leaking out before it was finalized, according to county documents.

The site where h.h. gregg will build its new distribution center is a nearly 50 acre lot south of Anvil Block Road, although Wainscott said the retailer will only use about half of that land. The economic development office is working to find another company to move into the remaining space on that lot.

Wainscott said ground may be broken for the new facility within the next couple of weeks.