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VOL. 127 | NO. 235 | Monday, December 3, 2012

Commission to Vote on Industrial Land Sale

By Bill Dries

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Shelby County Commissioners take up the proposed sale Monday, Dec. 3, of 33.6 acres of land in the Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park in southwest Memphis.


Carolyn Hardy, owner of the Hardy Bottling Co. and consultant to the Blues City Brewery operation that later bought the plant, wants to buy the last available roadside acreage in the industrial park for a business to store and stage modular containers.

The Memphis-Shelby County Port Commission backs the $403,980 sale to the Hardy Investment Trust at $12,000 an acre.

The commission meets at 1:30 p.m. at the Vasco Smith Shelby County Administration Building, 160 N. Main St.

“We’re not just putting trucks over there,” Hardy told commissioners in committee sessions last Wednesday. “We are building a trans-loading and docking facility. … It is hard to locate that outside the park.”

The reason is the facility will carry heavyweight freight and the roads in the park are rated for the heavier truckloads. The loads cannot travel across bridges and the park is one of the few routes on which those carrying the loads don’t have to cross a bridge.

Hardy has two customers interested in the service and has secured a $5 million investment for a facility that would create 230 new jobs at full operation.

“I try to expand and look for projects that create jobs. I realize I’m not Canadian National or Nucor,” Hardy said, referring to the railroad and steel company that are major tenants in the park near the site she wants. “But if you create a hundred jobs over and over, you will eventually get to that number over time. I am totally committed to Memphis.”

The per-acre price matches what Canadian National Railway Co. paid for its acreage in the park. But Port Commission director Randy Richardson said the acreage was appraised at $19,000 an acre.

That caused commission chairman Mike Ritz to say he will oppose the purchase.

“Why are we selling the last piece of property for less than appraised value for a use such as this?” he asked.

“I try to expand and look for projects that create jobs. I realize I’m not Canadian National or Nucor. But if you create a hundred jobs over and over, you will eventually get to that number over time.”

–Carolyn Hardy
Owner, Hardy Bottling Co.

Richardson said the land is a narrow strip about 500 feet wide that couldn’t be used for a manufacturing concern like Nucor, Mitsubishi or Electrolux, all recent Pidgeon arrivals.

Of the 500-foot width, about 150 feet toward the back of the property can’t be built on because of easements for oxygen, nitrogen and sewer utility pipes.

“In the master plan, it would be probably commercial strip (development),” Richardson said. “But there aren’t enough people there 24 hours a day. After 3 p.m. everybody goes home. The chances that somebody is going to come in there and do lunchtime-only business are pretty small.”

He also said per acre prices in the park have “fluctuated dramatically depending on the project.”

Ritz was the only “no” vote in committee and five other commissioners voted in favor of recommending it to the full 13-member body Monday.

“These will be new jobs,” said commissioner Heidi Shafer, who was among the “yes” votes. “You have had a very good track record of building business in this community. I believe this is going to be a good use of the property.”

Hardy said she has no plans to seek a tax break on the development through a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) program.

Also on Monday’s agenda is a resolution to transfer $473,549 from the commission’s contingency fund to pay its legal fees for its part in the federal court lawsuit over the creation of municipal school districts.

U.S. District Court Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays ruled Tuesday that suburban towns and cities must stop all preparations for municipal school districts as he voided one of three state laws governing how the school districts are established.

The commission mounted the legal challenge to the state laws passed in 2011 and 2012.

Still to come is a ruling from Mays on two other state laws governing the same process and whether they violate the Tennessee Constitution as well.

Meanwhile, the commission will take up another item Monday related to the schools merger. On the agenda is a resolution to provide an additional $2 million in funding to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office to pay for school resource officers for the merged school system. The money would come from the county’s fund balance to pay the additional cost as the Memphis Police Department ends its assignment of police officers to what are now Memphis City Schools.

The commission is also to vote on a resolution that approves an agreement for the Shelby County trustee to collect property taxes for the city of Lakeland, which earlier this year instituted its first property tax.

PROPERTY SALES 23 23 1,365
MORTGAGES 21 21 1,068
BUILDING PERMITS 117 117 3,173