‘Air Station’ warehouse unlikely to build this year

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, June 5, 2024

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“Project Air Station,” Isle of Wight County Economic Development’s codename for the first occupant of the Shirley T. Holland Intermodal Park’s long-planned third phase, likely won’t break ground this year.

Air Station General LC, a Virginia Beach company, has contracts to purchase 135 acres along Walters Highway owned by Isle of Wight’s Economic Development Authority.

The EDA voted unanimously on May 14 to reinstate its lease of 36 of those acres to Carr Farms for $5,338, or $148.28 per acre. The lease expires Dec. 31.

According to Economic Development Director Kristi Sutphin, Project Air Station needs to complete a Phase 1 archeological survey, which identifies and delimits the location of any historic resources in the project area, before a site plan can be approved.

County supervisors voted last year to approve exceptions to the county’s highway corridor overlay district requirements to permit the proposed 130,000-square-foot warehouse. The approved exceptions authorize the facility to have half of its 140 loading bays face Walters Highway. Once groundbreaking occurs, construction is estimated to take 18 to 22 months.

Only a narrow 35-acre strip is considered buildable, and is surrounded by roughly 100 acres of wetlands – an issue that affects most of the parcels in the park’s planned third phase. In 2019, when supervisors attempted to lure a Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice correctional center to the same parcel now slated for Air Station General, an environmental study determined much of Phase III to be wetlands due to the presence of loblolly pines, a tree the Army Corps of Engineers reclassified as a wetland plant in 2012.

Plans to develop the park’s third phase began in 2013 when supervisors, unaware of the wetlands issue at the time, rezoned 969 acres as “conditional limited industrial.”  

County officials last year estimated Air Station General would employ 250 people at the warehouse, which would specialize in accepting shipping containers trucked in from the Port of Virginia and redistributing those containers to third-party trucks.