NC begins offering deals to landowners near the VinFast site so road construction can begin
2024 was supposed to be the year fast-moving Vietnamese automaker VinFast opened its multibillion-dollar electric vehicle factory near the unincorporated community of Moncur in eastern Chatham County. VinFast now expects its plant, the first large auto assembly plant in the state’s history, to be ready sometime in 2025.
To avoid further delays, the next 12 months will be crucial for construction – both on and around the 1,800-acre site.
Located 30 miles southwest of downtown Raleigh, Moncur is poised for big changes. The small community (population: roughly 800 people) already has a few large-scale manufacturing operations nearby, but nothing compares to the promised scale of what VinFast has in mind.
By the end of the decade, VinFast says the Chatham assembly and battery plant will employ 7,500 workers. In terms of potential job creation, it is the largest economic project North Carolina has ever supported with tax incentives. Plans for the site include nearly 3 million square feet spread over eight buildings, including a 1 million-square-foot General Assembly area.
The VinFast project officially kicked off in July, with Chicago-based developer Clayco leading the project. On a weekday in mid-December, the area was crowded with workers and machinery. A construction entrance was constructed in the last few months to separate the 1,765-acre site from the adjacent road.
Then there is the upcoming work surrounding the site.
In VinFast’s incentive package, North Carolina allocated $250 million to boost local road and rail connections. The main goal is to provide direct access to the site from US 1, a four-lane divided highway.
The N.C. Department of Transportation has already repaved some local roads, and in December began making offers to property owners whose land is in the path of the intersection of a new highway and a four-lane access road. NCDOT expects to purchase 13 homes, one business and one church Before construction begins this year.
The church, Merry Oaks Baptist Church, has been on its old US 1 site for more than a century. VinFast said it would Donate land for church relocation.
The business is a Sky Mart gas station, whose owner Dillon Singh Hardeep is frustrated with the state’s takeover efforts. Hardeep expects he will have to move 12 of the 16 fuel pumps at his station.
“It’s a big headache, not just a headache,” he said. “I’d rather pay a million dollars to stay there.”
NCDOT confirmed that it is coordinating with Hardeep on the deal. The department said the appraiser contacts the owners and values the properties at fair market value. If negotiations fail, the state can also use eminent domain.
“We always work to determine the route that has the least impacts on people, property and the environment,” NCDOT spokesman Aaron Moody said in an email. “In some cases, this is unavoidable. Decisions are made to balance criteria such as safety, impacts on the natural and human environment, costs and traffic service.