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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jun. 21, 202105:00 AM EST

Niagara Bottling developing $70 million plant in Middleburg

The California producer of water beverages bought land along the First Coast Expressway.

California-based Niagara Bottling LLC is preparing to build a $70 million, 550,000-square-foot beverage manufacturing facility in Middleburg.

The Clay County Board of County Commissioners approved incentives grants for the project Feb. 9 and signed the deal April 27.

The Economic Development Grant and Tangible Personal Property Capital Investment Grant are calculated and paid after the investments are made and the agreements do not specify a precise amount.

The company’s code name was Project Belle.

Niagara, a family-owned company established in 1963, is based in Diamond Bar, near Los Angeles. 

The company bottles water, sparkling water, tea, sports drinks and vitamin-enhanced water. It also works with retailers, grocers, club and convenience stores to manufacture and bottle their brands.

Niagara Bottling estimates it will create 55 permanent jobs within a year of completing the Middleburg project at average annual wages, excluding benefits, of $40,001 to $40,793, higher than the county average $39,605.

It also says it will make a capital investment of at least $1 million in tangible personal property.

Niagara Bottling did not return calls or emails about what it will bottle there or when it expects to start production.

The St. Johns River Water Management District said the bottling company will buy water from the Clay County Utility Authority under the authority’s existing consumptive use permit. No water use permit is required from the district.

Water-Ade Properties registered its name with the state Feb. 1. The company and the Clay County Utility Authority signed a developer agreement Feb. 26 

The company and the Clay County Utility Authority signed a developer agreement Feb. 26

Water-Ade agreed to pay almost $2.6 million in connection charges and the reservation of capacity to buy up to 950,850 gallons of potable water daily.

It will pay monthly commercial water, wastewater and reclaimed water consumption rates, an alternative water supply surcharge and other applicable fees.

The water management district is reviewing plans for the first phase of the project on 64 acres at 565 Atlantis Drive. The site is east along the First Coast Expressway. Water-Ade Properties LLC is the applicant and owner.

England, Thims & Miller Inc. of Jacksonville is the civil engineer. Environmental Resource Solutions of Jacksonville is the environmental consultant.

Water-Ade paid $6.4 million April 2 for the undeveloped 150.55-acre site. Almost 17 acres is conservation easement.

A master site plan shows the first phase at 554,095 square feet and a future expansion at 262,080 square feet, totaling more than 800,000 square feet.

The county grant information shows that Niagara proposes a $30 million construction cost and $40 million in machinery and equipment.

An aerial view of the Niagara Bottling facility in Groveland, about 30 miles west of Orlando.

Clay County will pay the Economic Development Grant in 15 annual installments starting the first year that the improvements are reflected on the real property tax roll and generate an increase in the ad valorem real estate taxes.

Each installment for the first 10 years of the grant will be 75% of the improved value of the property and 50% the past five years.

The county will pay the Tangible Personal Property Capital Investment Grant in three annual installments starting the first year the tangible personal property is reflected on the tax roll.

Niagara has been interested in building a plant in Columbia County, about 60 miles west of Clay County.

The Gainesville Sun reported Jan. 12 that the Columbia County Commission declined to vote on a proposal by Niagara to withdraw almost 2.9 million gallons a day from the Floridan aquifer in Lake City.

The news site said Niagara sought a three-party agreement with the county and Lake City to build and permit a bottling plant in an industrial park.

It reported that Lake City was not interested and that county officials said the county would not be able to meet the terms of the proposal without the city.

The Sun reported Niagara proposed starting the operation with 650,000 gallons a day to be provided by Lake City and that pumping would ramp up to almost 2.9 million gallons a day provided that the county received a consumptive use permit from the Suwannee River Water Management District.

Niagara’s website shows more than 30 locations nationwide, including Florida plants in Groveland and Jupiter.

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