Jackob Andersen

Jackob Andersen

COOLIDGE — With active solar farms and the first vertical beams up at the Nikola Motor Company site, Saint Holdings CEO Jackob Andersen said the company is “marching forward with our plans” for the Inland Port project a few miles south of downtown Coolidge. Andersen said the multiyear land development project could be fast-tracked as the company looks to find potential partners.

At the north end of Saint Holdings’ property, two 100-megawatt solar plants — East Line Solar and Saint Solar — are online. The solar plants occupy several thousand acres at the intersection of State Routes 87 and 287 and are servicing companies in the Phoenix metro area.

In addition to the completion of the Nikola plant, Andersen said he expects construction to begin on two of the port’s road expansions this year. The county received just over $15 million for a federal BUILD grant at the end of 2019, and plans to use that for improvements along Hanna and Houser roads, just east of SR 87. Saint Holdings had worked to help obtain the funds.

Andersen said that throughout the pandemic period they’d been having discussions with potential additions to the industrial park.

“Before we were having a bunch of executives from a company for one or two visits,” Andersen said. “Whereas now everyone can jump online and we can remotely look at the land on Google Earth and share brochures.”

Andersen also praised the city of Coolidge and City Manager Rick Miller for their coordination and support for the site development.

“We had a good working relationship from there,” Andersen said. “With his very strategic thinking and methodical way of managing, we worked closely to help the City Council understand what we were trying to achieve. We’ve had nothing but a great relationship and good support.”

Andersen was confident that the company’s legwork and track record, as well as direct planning efforts with the city of Coolidge, assured the Inland Port wouldn’t suffer the same fate as previous regional mega-sites such as PhoenixMart, whose enormous and empty exoskeleton offers a cautionary tale off SR 87. It is to be a site where goods from the West Coast are transferred from train to truck.

“I think our track record speaks for itself,” Andersen said. “I do agree that Pinal County has been marred with PhoenixMart and amusement parks and all these other strange things. Some city councils have jumped on these, I would say prematurely. We have been one of the largest land developers for quite a few years now and if you ask around, our reputation is pretty good.”

Saint Holdings is also responsible for the Central Arizona Commerce Park in Casa Grande, which includes the Lucid Motors manufacturing plant now going into production, and a Tractor Supply Company distribution center.

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Aaron Dorman is a reporter covering Coolidge and the surrounding area. He can be reached at adorman@pinalcentral.com.