BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — With Dollar General giving its $100 million stamp of approval to a 100-acre site near Alabama 150 and Lakeshore Parkway, the owner of the surrounding 500 acres feels the time is right for that area to reach its long-promised commercial development potential.

USS Real Estate, the property and development arm of U.S. Steel, owns much of the vacant land in the Shannon and Oxmoor Valley, including around 500 acres of developable land at the Lakeshore and 150 intersection. USS sold Dollar General its property for a new 1 million-square-foot distribution center and has developed its own 100-acre office and industrial park across Lakeshore Parkway.

But the current development could be the tip of the iceberg as USS sees more potential for other business parks or large, stand-alone office or industrial properties at the existing intersection and if plans materialize for an extension of Lakeshore Parkway to Interstate 459.

“USS has had a lot of property in this corridor for a number of years,” said Peter Allsopp, manager of commercial sales and development for USS in Birmingham. “We’ve been able to wait for development to move that way. It’s there now.”

Not only is development there but, thanks to help from USS, Bessemer, the state, Jefferson County, the Birmingham Business Alliance and Alabama Power Co., infrastructure is there or coming.

Patrick Murphy, head of economic development at the BBA, said property there is going to have the economic development trifecta — good location, good access and now good infrastructure.

“There is visual infrastructure that will be coming to service the Dollar General site and building, which obviously the property surrounding them can take advantage of for future growth,” Murphy said. “Prepared, controlled sites that are zoned always get preferential looks.”

Add to that a magnet like the Dollar General facility itself, and growth seems an almost certainty, he said.

“Obviously, the Dollar General deal is going to be a catalyst to bring development down there,” Murphy said. “USS has been working for a long time to get that property prepared and ready to market. They were a team player in the whole marketing and pursuit of the Dollar General project.”

Not that growth is new to the Shannon and Oxmoor Valleys. Amenities like Robert Trent Jones golf courses and Ross Bridge are already in the area and the planned 1,200-acre Red Mountain Park is also on the drawing board. But the corridor has also been home to industrial growth ranging from old Birmingham business names like Bruno’s and Parisian to newer high-tech operations from Wells Fargo, Southern Co. and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, all of which have data centers in the Jefferson Metropolitan Park Lakeshore.

“It’s already had a significant amount of growth with the older Oxmoor area closer to I-65 and more recently with the successes we’re seeing with the JeffMet Lakeshore and the data center projects there,” Murphy said. “Now, with Dollar General you’re just going to have continued growth through there. It makes a lot of sense from the logistical aspects but also with the infrastructure of heavy telecommunications, heavy power, water and sewer give you the key ingredients needed for just about any kind of project.”

The same fiber optics infrastructure that help make JeffMet Lakeshore a data center magnet is also in place for the vacant USS property, a fact not lost on the property owners or economic developers.

“We are currently working with Alabama Power, the state and the U.S. Steel real estate group to identify other properties right there that could be home to data centers,” Murphy said.

With Lakeshore 150 Business Park across from the Dollar General site, Allsopp said USS went to the added expense of putting in roads and have sites shovel-ready for companies eager to take part in the growth.

John Coleman, an industrial broker with Graham & Co., has been hired to fill up the business park. He said Dollar General and the park itself are making his job easier.

“It’s hard to find flat pieces of property ready for development and that’s what we have here,” Coleman said. “To develop something like this on your own would be cost prohibitive. Companies can take advantage of the work USS has already done.”

The first company to take advantage is J. Adkins Mechanical, a mechanical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning contractor that started seven years ago at the older, Oxmoor end of Lakeshore Parkway. The company has grown to 92 employees and $17 million in projected revenues this year, prompting the need for more space.

The company’s new $1.4 million headquarters on 2.5 acres in the park should be completed this summer with 5,200 square feet of office space and a 15,000-square-foot fabrication shop.

“We are actually going to be the first company to locate in that area,” Joel Adkins, chief executive of the company, said Thursday. “Our new building is going to give us twice as much space as we have now and should give us enough room to grow the next five years.”

Adkins said the company didn’t move down Lakeshore for the peace and quiet environment.

“We would like to see a lot more building out that way, to include the extension of Lakeshore Parkway and the property over there,” Adkins said, saying his partners at the company — president Jason Kimbrough, finance chief Sid Boreland and administrative vice president Amber Strain — all favored the move because of the expected growth.

“I think we all wanted to be part of what’s about to happen,” he said.

When it comes to the Dollar General project, J. Adkins is already part of what’s happening. The company recently won the contract to handle the heating and air conditioning for the 1 million-square-foot distribution center.

Allsopp said USS Real Estate is already eyeing the retail development plans for the property at the intersection of Alabama 150 and Lakeshore Parkway. Having 650 jobs coming with Dollar General and the thousands of trucks that will be moving through that facility each year should entice some retail growth soon, he predicted.

Looking ahead, the Lakeshore Parkway extension is going to become more of a necessity as is the four-laning of Alabama 150 back towards Ross Bridge Parkway, Allsopp said. The latter is already in the plans but the former is not on any of the road construction plans for the county.

“We’re going to start a new push to get the Lakeshore extension back on the radar,” Allsopp said.

Murphy said with the attention Dollar General is bringing to the area, the Lakeshore extension needs to become a priority.

“Hopefully this will help spur that on sooner,” he said. “That access to I-459 will be critical for our logistics recruitment efforts.”

While the BBA has often lobbied for road improvements, spokesman Dave Rickey said it remains to be seen if the Lakeshore extension is a cause the Birmingham’s primary business organization plans to take up.

“I don’t think we know that yet. It was not on the radar earlier this year when we looked at the legislative priorities,” Rickey said. “If it looks like it will be a project that is going to roll through on its own, then the BBA may not take that up as a cause. Clearly, it’s on our radar screen now and something we might have to revisit when we look at our priorities.”

Allsopp said connecting to I-459 gives the corridor a closer link to the $97.5 million Norfolk Southern railroad hub being built in McCalla. The Birmingham Regional Intermodal Facility is expected to be a boon for manufacturing and distribution growth for the metro area for its ability to efficiently move shipping containers between rail and trucks to get products from New Orleans to New York and anywhere in the world faster and cheaper than long-haul trucking.

“We feel like with the pull from the Norfolk Southern project, this area and a Lakeshore extension is going to be important to the who region,” Allsopp said.

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