Nearly 10 months after deciding not to extend the purchase option on land for a possible data center development, the Sherman Economic Development Corp. approved a right of first refusal agreement Tuesday with Thea Development LLC for that same land.


The SEDCO board of directors approved the agreement during its meeting Monday to advance the marketing of the property to data center companies. Vice President of Business Retention & Expansion Stacey Jones said the right of first refusal agreement, which clarifies that land in Progress Park I is available for development, will simply give Thea Development 30 days notice before the land is sold.


“Thea Development markets the benefits of Sherman to prospects,” Jones said via email. “The agreement shows that Thea Development has expended considerable time and resources in consideration of the development of Progress Park I and will be notified and given the Right of First Refusal before the property becomes unavailable. This agreement provides Thea Development additional credibility when marketing Progress Park I to prospects.”


Jones said SEDCO will only sell property it owns when that land is going to be used for a specific project.


“We will only sell anything in Progress Park in order to improve the tax base and have a company there that is one that would benefit the community,” Jones said. “All sales are tied to a project. Developers call and ask to buy our land, but it has to be a viable Type A project before we sell our land.”


In June of last year, the SEDCO board approved an option contract for Thea Development to work on the development of infrastructure in Progress Park I for five data centers as part of facility called Cassini Gateway I. At the time, SEDCO leadership explained each of the five data center buildings would be an approximately $200 million facility and in excess of 200,000 square feet.


After the three-month option on the land expired in October, SEDCO decided not to extend the option for another three months because Thea Development wasn’t able to identify any companies considering the local property.


“I am subject to confidentiality agreements that I can’t breach,” Thea Development CEO Margie Guido said at the time of why the companies she was working with wished to remain anonymous. ““We’re still working on the project and we’re moving it forward. We still have an agreement with SEDCO about developing data center campuses. That’s still enforced, and we’re still very much interested in the site. We think it’s a great site.”


On its website, Thea Development states it identifies sites that have an “energy advantage and meet all of the other stringent demands of data centers.” It also states the Cassini Gateway campus has access to “several sources of energy in multiple markets, is situated near a new combined cycle power plant, and has access to substantial amounts of water from multiple sources — a combination that provides a cost and reliability advantage now and for many years to come.”


Before the decision not to extend Thea Development’s purchase option, the SEDCO board approved the sale of 22.5 acres of land in Progress Park IV to FedEx Freight for $45,000. The 48 acres that were under option by Thea Development were appraised at $40,000 an acre last year.


Guido said the process of developing a data center is a long one that requires “really big” investments.


“It tends to be a very quiet industry — they worry about their competitive positioning,” Guido said. “We just have to respect their request, it’s against us, but we have to respect their request to remain anonymous.”