There are currently about 1,500 employees working at the Volvo manufacturing plant in Ridgeville. If they want to step away for a quick lunch or run errands after work, most have to travel at least 20 minutes out for basic conveniences.
Especially during a timed break, that commute adds up.
But soon, workers’ will have food and retail options just down their street with the new Camp Hall Village Center, a master-planned community located in the heart of the industrial commerce park and adjacent to the Volvo plant in Berkeley County.
In early August, developer Santee Cooper selected commercial real estate firm Lee & Associates to lead the sale of retail parcels at the village center. Lee & Associates will facilitate the request for proposal process to secure developers and tenants. While nothing is set in stone yet as they enter the final round of approvals, Lee & Associates have confirmed that multiple businesses have already expressed their interest.
“This is going to become a small industrial town, so we’ve approached this as, what do small industrial towns have, and what do they need from the standpoint of services?” Lee & Associates President Wade Allen said.
Those services will be made up of a collection of small businesses and conveniences meant to help connect the workforce to the needs of everyday life. Future plans for this complex include access to Wi-Fi, food options, a convenience store, health care, dry cleaning, gas and electric-vehicle charging, banking, a fitness center and fire station.
“We’ve done a lot of research, and we actually did a labor study with MAU (Workforce Solutions), and what came out of that were employees telling us that they want better work-life balance and amenities nearby,” said Nicole Aiello, a spokesperson for Santee Cooper. “We’re building all these things where employees can get together and have that time to recharge, and that can actually increase the retention for employment.”
Lee & Associates also sees this as an way to help retain and attract talent to the region.
“It’s an opportunity for us to actually provide something that will attract major users to Berkeley County and the state, and that’s why we were hired to do this because we fully understand that this is going to be an amenity for not just Volvo and their employees, but their suppliers and for a few other large users,” said Justin Ross, a broker with Lee & Associates. “The village center is going to be a gathering place – everything that you would want in a town or a city, you got it all in one spot.”
Of the total 6,800 acres of Camp Hall commerce park, about 100 acres will be allocated for the village center specifically. Construction is currently taking place, with plans to near completion in fourth quarter 2021.
For businesses considering moving into the area, possible incentives could include fee-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements through Berkeley County, as well as closing grants from Santee Cooper, Berkeley Electric and the S.C. Power Team. The Department of Commerce might provide incentives of their own as well, Aiello said.
Once the industry park is to capacity, businesses will be part of a community that is anticipated to bring 15,000 jobs, 4,000 of which are already committed.
“As you’ve seen already with Volvo Car USA, they have provided a number of new and high-paying jobs, they have new employees coming to the area on a regular basis, and all of that really is going to help spur the economy in the area,” Aiello said.
“So we believe with Camp Hall, as it builds out and more industries come, we’re going to see that trend intensify, so for a rural area in South Carolina to be able to get this type of industry and bring people in to not only work there, but spend money in their neighborhoods, is going to be a great asset to South Carolina and to the economy,” she said.
In addition to storefronts, restaurants and businesses, the overall design concept of the village center includes an emphasis on nature. Preserved land will make up 2,650 acres, while freshwater wetlands will take up 1,265 acres. Amenities will also include an event lawn and park, playfield and nature trails for exercise and gathering.
The village center is going to be an area where patrons can park and walk, Aiello said. The goal is to have a walkable community that highlights nature as it permeates the built industrial environment around it.
“What we’re doing here is pretty unique in that, I don’t think you’d think of industrial parks as having a gathering place and kind of a cool vibe,” Ross said. “I don’t think you see that anywhere else, so we’re making sure we get the right mix and selecting the right tenants to be successful in creating amenities for the employees and the surrounding community.”