The Sanford Area Growth Alliance is looking to partner with Lee County and the city of Sanford to put up a second shell building in Central Carolina Enterprise Park.

SAGA’s Chief Executive Officer Michael Smith spoke to the county commissioners at their Monday night meeting.

It was the first time in two months that the commissioners have met in person because of COVID-19 restrictions. Social distancing was practiced as commissioners and county staff sat at least 6 feet, if not more, from each other.

SAGA wants to use the blueprint of the first shell building at the park. That building was purchased by Audentes Therapeutics in February for $17 million.

“It’s the same situation we did before,” Smith said. “It being built as a spec building, trying to help bring a new company to town like we did the first one.

“Because of the first one, we got a lot in interest and we want to do it again,” Smith said.

The project will involve the city, the county, Central Carolina Enterprise Park LLC and Samet Corp., a Greensboro-based developer that worked on the first building, Smith said.

Like the first building, it will consist of 117,000 square feet and will be up to the company that comes in to put in the finishing touches. It will be built on 10.6 acres adjacent to the first building.

Construction is scheduled to start in June, Smith said, with a completion date in June 2021.

Once it’s completed, the city and county will enter into a lease agreement with the owner and would pay a maximum monthly rent of $27,803 or up to $325,000 per year, according to documents in the agenda packet.

The cost would be split between the city and county and the lease could go up to two years, Smith said.

However, if a company buys the building before the lease agreement is signed, no rent will need to be paid.

That’s what happened with the first spec building, Smith said.

“The first one, the city and county never had to make a payment. Audentes got (the building) before it was finished. The city and county never made a payment,” Smith said.

Commissioner Andre Knecht asked if the project had been put out to bid or if local contractors would be allowed to bid on it.

Plans are to use the same team that worked on the first shell building, Smith said, but didn’t rule out the possibility of opening it up for bids.

“I know a couple of local developers that wouldn’t mind, and have done buildings in the past,” Knecht said.

The developers used as many Sanford contractors as possible in building the first facility, Smith said.

“They do everything they can to use local resources. Sanford contractors did a lot of work on the first one and likely will do it on the next one as well,” he said.

It will cost about $7 million to put up the shell building, Smith said, but the county stands to profit off permits that will be issued to upfit the building once it is sold.

A public hearing on the request is scheduled at the June 1 meeting of the county commissioners.

Also Monday, Bob Joyce, SAGA’s Economic Development executive director, updated the commissioners on the progress of Bharat Forge, an auto component manufacturer that is coming to Sanford.

Joyce said he has been asked by several people if the project was on hold.

“It’s not on hold, it’s going forward, albeit slowly,” Joyce said.

Bharat Forge is part of the India-based Kalyani Group conglomerate. The company announced in September that Sanford had been selected for the plant.

When completed, the company is expected to create 460 full-time jobs, investing $170.9 million in Sanford, according to a SAGA release.

Company officials chose to build the plant on Colon Road at Tabitha Lane and construction is underway, Joyce said. With travel restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic, Joyce said he has had weekly virtual meetings with company leaders in India.

“Interviews for jobs are having to be done virtually, Joyce said.

The company has set up an office on Carthage Street and has hired a plant manager and a human resources director and 10 others, Joyce said.