Green tech

‘Planned community’ at Alcoa site would be economic mega boost
Chances are good the Rockdale business community is still collectively pinching itself after Alcoa’s announcement last week that the company wants to sell 11,000 acres of its former Rockdale Operations through Velocita Holdings.

Velocita’s announced concept is on a scale so big that just thinking about it in terms of “a business” or “a development” is to seriously underestimate its magnitude

What’s envisioned is nothing less than another town located about six miles southwest of Rockdale, but it’s a town that’s more Tech than Texas.

Velocita would first construct a major high-tech “green” research area, complete with wind tunnel, envisioned as about 750,000 square feet.

In two years, according to Doug Hutchison, Velocita founder, facilities could grow to three million square feet. Jobs would come with that, about 1,800 in a couple of years and 5,000 in a dozen years. That’s what they say!

The complex would grow so big it would have its own urban core area with businesses and, of course, housing. Ultimate plans call for 3,500 residential units housing 5,000. Yes, that’s roughly the size of Rockdale.

There would be public areas, parks, schools, outdoor and performing arts theatres, organic farms and the community is envisioned to attract research scientists from universities.

If/when it all comes together, Velocita estimates $2 billion in a new tax base, $315 million in annual payroll and $800 million in annual tourism.

It’s not exactly a mission statement but Velocita’s stated goal is “what will be....the next generation.”

Of course, the big question for this area is “is it really going to happen?”

The next four months will tell us a lot about that. Alcoa and Velocita have a lot of work to do and the details of a Municipal Utility District (MUD) need to be worked out.

If it all comes to pass, though, future generations of Rockdale residents might look back on 2010 as the year Rockdale’s next generation began.—M.B.

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2010-10-28 digital edition

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