Project Could Double Usable Space on President's Island

By Amos Maki

If the Memphis and Shelby County Port Commission can win a sizeable grant from the federal government, work to build railroad capacity on Presidents Island – which would eventually allow for the future development of up to 1,500 acres there – could begin in August.

The Port Commission has applied for a $35.3 million TIGER V grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and other parties, including Cargill and Canadian National Railway, could contribute $34.2 million toward the rail expansion, which could eventually double the developed space in the industrial area.

“This is a legacy project,” said project manager Ted Fox, who gave an update on the effort Wednesday to the board of the Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County.

The project would include roughly 80,000 linear feet of railroad tracks starting at roughly the entrance to Presidents Island and encircle 1,500 acres of undeveloped land.

“Eventually (the 1,500 acres) will be developed,” said Fox.

Construction on the rail expansion could begin in August and be complete in July 2015.

The EDGE board also granted tax freezes to two companies that will bring 208 new jobs and millions in capital investment to Memphis.

The EDGE board approved payment-in-lieu-of-tax breaks for Old Dominion Freight Line Inc. and Barnhart Crane and Rigging Co.

Old Dominion was granted a nine-year PILOT to add 188 new jobs and invest $31.3 million in a building at Airways and State Line Road. Old Dominion, a North Carolina-based less-than-truck-load carrier, has outgrown its current facility at 3050 Carrier Rd.

“The last few years we’ve experienced double digit growth,” said Philip Danner, manager of construction for Old Dominion. “It’s really good to have this problem that we’ve outgrown this facility.”

According to an EDGE staff report, the project will create $7.8 million in new tax revenue for Memphis and Shelby County.

The average salary of the new employees will be $52,111. EDGE staff predicts the deal will produce $1.60 in tax revenue for every $1 in taxes abated. Old Dominion said the PILOT was “critical” to remaining in Memphis and not moving south of the border to DeSoto County.

Memphis-based Barnhart Crane and Rigging Co was awarded a 11-year PILOT to add 20 new jobs and invest $5.2 million in real and personal property at 2085 W.E. Freeman.

Barnhart plans on buying the Freeman Road building for $2.6 million and building a 60,000-square-foot warehouse. It also intends on acquiring five more properties at Depot Memphis.

Barnhart originally sought a nine-year PILOT but received two extra years because it exceeded EDGE’s diversity goals and because it would participate in a prisoner re-entry program.

EDGE staff said the project would create $838,043 in new tax revenue for the city and county. The average salary of the new employees will be $64,532. The project will bring in $1.27 of new tax revenue for every $1 abated, according to EDGE.

Barnhart would use the space for industrial storage of large items.

“We see Memphis as an optimal place to grow that business,” said Barnhart CFO Terry Grigsby.