A Southern California-based company with a local presence recently became the first business to buy land inside New Hanover County’s Blue Clay Business Park.
Francini Inc., an importer and distributor of natural and engineered stone products, recently purchased just under six acres of land in the county-owned park. The company plans to build a 100,000-square-foot warehouse, distribution facility and showroom on the site, according to a news release issued Wednesday by Wilmington Business Development.
The expansion plans will help the company “add to its regional portfolio and capacity, further supporting the market,” the release stated. Francini Inc. has an existing showroom on Wilmington’s Landmark Drive.
“Our newest development in Wilmington reiterates the Francini Inc. continued commitment to North Carolina,” owner Andrea Francini stated in the release. “We are proud to be in this great state and look forward to further growth in Greater Wilmington.”
The company expects to invest more than $10 million and create dozens of jobs
through this new project. New Hanover County is currently working with engineering partner McKim & Creed to establish a framework for the business park’s infrastructure, which is expected to be online by the first quarter of 2024, according to the release. Francini’s project and the infrastructure work are expected to be completed simultaneously.
The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the sale of this first business park tract in February, which began the upset bid and due diligence process. At the time, the company offered the county $250,000 for the site, and as part of the deal, Francini Inc. also had the option of purchasing an adjacent 7-acre tract at the same rate per acre for a four-year period, according to past reporting. Sherwood Strickland of Coldwell Banker Seacoast Advantage represented the buyer in the transaction.
In the release, Chair Bill Rivenbark noted the business park, which is situated on approximately 120 acres near Castle Hayne, is “a reflection of our county government’s desire to increase economic development opportunities in this region and provide space and opportunities for businesses to grow.”
“We are excited that Francini is the first to make an investment at the business park and believe this is just the beginning of a lasting partnership with their company and New Hanover County as they continue growing their successful enterprise,” he wrote.
The company’s expansion is slated for the southeast side of the park, due to its visibility and accessibility to Blue Clay Road. The park’s proximity to Interstate 40, the Port of Wilmington and a partnership with the county all factored into the company’s decision-making process, according to the release.
New Hanover County leaders contracted Wilmington Business Development to study the Blue Clay Road site and carry out due diligence work on the property. The site was also selected in 2019 for Duke Energy's Site Readiness Program, which includes an initial assessment of industrial sites from the perspective of a site selection consultant, a more detailed buildability assessment along with development of conceptual plans by expert land use and site planners.
The area also saw interest earlier this year
from sister companies Coastal Millwork Supply and Risley Padula and FFT Cabinetry, which are looking to expand their operations with a move to Blue Clay Business Park.