City approves Gonvauto projects

The construction of the new Gonvauto South Carolina steel service center is moving forward and so are the efforts of local government to accommodate that process.

Gonvauto is being built by Gonvarri Steel Services on a 24-acre site in the Bonham community next to S.C. 18. Gonvarri, which is based in Spain, is a provider of steel processing to manufacturers and Gonvauto will be its first steel service center in America. The new facility will supply the nearby Gestamp LLC automotive parts manufacturing facility. Gestamp, which is also based in Spain, is the parent company of Gonvarri.

Gonvarri is making an initial investment of $35 million in Gonvauto, which will employ a workforce of 40 and have a flat steel processing capacity of 100,000 tons. Beyond its initial investment, Gonvarri plans to invest another $15 million in Gonvauto and create an additional 25 jobs.

Construction has already begun on the site of the Gonvauto facility which is projected to be completed and in operation by July 2013.

Since Gonvauto was announced, local governments have taken a number of steps to facilitate the construction and eventual operation of both the facility and a railroad spur which will link it with the Norfolk & Southern Railroad line on the other side of S.C. 18.

The most recent step to accommodate Gonvauto were two bids awarded Wednesday by Union City Council for the relocation of a natural gas line and two water lines running along S.C. 18.

The bid for the relocation of the 8-inch natural gas line was awarded to Apple Boring Co. for $125,965.50 while the bid for the relocation a 16-inch and a 6-inch water line was awarded to Boulware Plumbing & Construction for $154,405.

Joe Nichols, utility director, told council that the gas and water lines are being relocated in conjunction with the construction of the Gonvauto facility. Nichols said the relocations are designed to continue supplying the county facilities that receive city water and natural gas while accommodating the transportation needs of Gonvauto and the safety requirements of Norfolk & Southern Railroad.

“The main reason we’re relocating these lines that serve the county facilities like the jail, the detention center, and the animal shelter is because of the upcoming closing of the Detention Road,” Nichols said. “Those lines run along that road and we’re relocating them because the road is going to become an entrance to Gonvauto. With the implementation of the new road which is being constructed now we will relocate these utilities to that new road.”

“The other reason we’re relocating these is because of the rail spur,” he said. “The railroad is going to require us to put casings in under that spur to prevent any damage to the water and gas lines.”

Union County plans to turn Detention Road over to Gonvauto for truck and other transport to and from the facility. A new road will be built further down S.C. 18 to replace the road turned over to Gonvauto.

The county has also closed the Bonham recycling convenience center and relocated the Public Works Department to accommodate construction of the rail spur. A temporary convenience center accepting only household waste and cardboard is now open on a hill near the site of the old recycling center. The Public Works Department is currently housed in a small office building behind the county jail.

Once Gonvauto and the rail spur are built, the county plans to build a new state-of-the art recycling convenience center for the Bonham community. Plans are for the new center and the Public Works Department to be located several hundred feet back from their old locations.

Other steps taken to facilitate the Gonvauto project include an incentive package approved by Union County Council. The package includes a fee-in-lieu of taxes agreement which will enable the company to pay a reduced property tax rate; a special revenue source credit; the transfer of land from the county to the company; an option for the company to buy more land; and other related matters between the county and the company.

By Charles Warner, Staff Reporter with The Union Daily Times