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Case Study – The Morgan Tract

1,300-Acre Planned-Unit-Development in West Chatham County, Georgia: A Case Study of Our Master Development, Consulting and Brokerage Services

From 2003 to 2006, Harvey Gilbert of Gilbert Realty Company, LLC served as development consultant for the Morgan family in formulating the plan for and initiating the development of a 1,300-acre mixed-use development.  The Morgan Tract is located on the north side of Pine Barren Road and south side of U.S. Highway 80, primarily to the west of Pooler Parkway in the South Pooler area.

Predevelopment Phase

Harvey Gilbert served as lead consultant in completing the following steps in order to convert the tract, which had been utilized in silviculture for the preceding sixty years, into an income producing development tract.

Master Plan– Working with Hussey, Gay, Bell & DeYoung (“GHB&D”) Consulting Engineers and J.M. Woods, Inc., Land Planner, Gilbert produced a development plan which featured single-family and multi-family residential, commercial/retail and light industrial/distribution development components.  The balance of these uses was based on a detailed feasibility study, as well as Gilbert’s prior development experience within the nearby Berwick Plantation and Godley Station planned-unit-developments.

Rezoning/Development of Regional Impact– Gilbert lead the way in obtaining P-U-D zoning for the development for properties located within Bloomingdale and Pooler, as well as a DRI from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

Design and Development Guidelines– Working in concert with Jim Woods, Mr. Gilbert developed guidelines to help ensure architectural compatibility among the developments within the various parcels as well as an overall orderly progression of development.

Negotiation of Water & Sewer Agreement– Gilbert worked closely with HGBD to structure a water and sewer master plan that provides adequate capacity and infrastructure to accommodate build-out of the entire project.  Working with Pooler in order to accomplish a definitive water and sewer agreement, the team utilized a GEFA loan to finance this infrastructure and capacity.

404 Permit with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers– Approximately 35% of the overall Morgan Tract is comprised of designated wetlands.  Working with Environmental Services, Inc., Gilbert and the team carefully planned the road systems and utility crossings within the project in order to minimize impacts on designated wetlands.  This resulted in the issuance of a 404 Permit from the Corps of Engineers for the overall development and provided the owners with the opportunity to permit a wetlands bank and deliver mitigation credits to the local market.

The key to successfully marketing the Morgan Tract from a land seller’s perspective and implementing a successful planned-unit-development was in putting together a well-balanced land plan that captured a significant proportion of the local commercial, residential and industrial development demand while lining up all of the predevelopment tasks in equilibrium. Adhering to the targeted time line was paramount.

Sales and Marketing Phase

From 2005 through 2010 Harvey Gilbert of Gilbert Realty and Cliff Dales of Neely-Dales served as co-brokers for the project and accomplished a phenomenal sales pace resulting in closed transactions on approximately 70% of the development.  This sales pace was a function of the following factors:

  • the extraordinary location of the Morgan Tract
  • the implementation of a well-balanced land plan
  • the unprecedented overall strength of the market with particular emphasis on the industrial market resulting from the Port’s unprecedented growth; and,
  • a carefully designed and well executed strategic marketing plan

The Morgan Tract has experienced concentrated vertical development and evolved into one of the most dynamic planned-unit-developments in the metro Savannah area with the following components:

Morgan’s Corner– A 30,000 square foot multi-tenant neighborhood retail center on a ten acre site located at the NE corner at the intersection of Pine Barren Road and Pooler Parkway and developed by Shore/Sheffield.

Morgan Pines– A single family residential community developed by Konter Homes with 221 units in the $140,000s to the $300,000s.

Oglethorpe Square– A 140-unit townhome development of Beacon Builders fronting Pine Barren Road within walking distance of South Pooler Elementary and Middle Schools.

Morgan Center Commonwealth– A 150-acre light industrial/distribution center zoned for a total density of 1.9 million square feet which currently houses over 1 million square feet of buildings occupied by Hasbro, Matson Logistics and additional tenants.

AMB/Prologis Morgan Center– A 250-acre light industrial/distribution center zoned for 2.9 million square feet of development.  Doral currently occupies a 350,000 square feet Class A warehouse.

Whitefield Marsh– Class A apartment project on a 15-acre parcel at the entrance to Morgan Pines which is slated for development of approximately 300 units.  Construction should begin in the 2nd Quarter of 2012.

The Morgan Tract is unique in terms of a family that has owned a land holding for multiple generations successfully developing a large scale, planned-unit-development.  The overwhelming majority of competitive PUDs in the metro Savannah area and Coastal Georgia region were developed by forest products companies and/or their land development subsidiaries or institutional developers.

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