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Developer building on despite tough economy
Developer Lamar Smith near some storefronts at the Ford Park of Commerce light industrial center in Richmond Hill.

Local developer Lamar Smith seems to be bucking the economic trend.

He just completed one Richmond Hill development project and is on the verge of another.

Ford Park of Commerce, located just parallel to the I-95 interchange off Hwy. 144, recently completed construction. The project entails 52,000 square-feet of flex space, which means it could be used for retail or wherehouse use. Six out of the 18 lots were almost immediately purchased, and Smith said interest is high for the remaining lots.

All the while, Smith is tying up loose ends on the planning stages of Richmond Reserve, an 1,110-acre subdivision near Daniel Siding Road and Hwy. 17 that is proposed to include 2,200 homes.

"There has been a flurry of phone calls from folks interested in the Ford Park of Commerce," Smith said. "Just this week, we’ve had calls from those whose interest ranged from one lot to a whole building. It’s very positive."

One business coming to the Park is a 6,000 square-foot inflatable recreation center, which owner Stella Farinacci just got approval from the city to build. Smith has also gotten contracts signed from incoming businesses KC Trailer Sales, a high-end company that builds trailers for the racing industry, and America’s Homeplace, a custom home builder. Smith said other businesses are coming to the Park, but did not provide names, saying they have not signed contracts. Smith said much of the tract’s popularity can be attributed to the fact that the location is "geared to anyone who needs access to the port and the airport. It is ideal for a distribution center for small companies."

Meanwhile, Smith is hoping to break ground soon on Richmond Reserve. He is hoping to meet with city and county officials next week to hash out the roadway to the proposed subdivision.

"We know we have a limited time frame to start this project as we have an expected influx of soldiers coming to the area in 2010, so we hope to have all the details worked out soon," Smith said.

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