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VOL. 129 | NO. 17 | Monday, January 27, 2014

Industrial Park Expansions Gaining Momentum

By Amos Maki

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Economic development officials should know the final scope of a planned expansion of Presidents Island within the next 30 days while the proposed growth of nearby Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park is moving forward.

Officials who have been exploring two options to expand rail service on Presidents Island should know the final scope of the planned expansion within the next 30 days.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Officials have been exploring two options to expand rail service on Presidents Island, a $38 million rail expansion to serve Cargill Inc. that would not produce any new developed land and a $45 million expansion that would produce more than 500 acres of new developable land.

“We’re trying to close gaps on different options as far as funding is concerned,” said Randy Richardson, vice president of port and industrial properties for the Economic Development Growth Engine of Memphis and Shelby County and executive director of the Port Commission. “One of the decisions is in Cargill’s corporate office and hopefully within a week or two we’ll have an idea of which option we’re going to look at doing.”

In September, city and county officials were notified that Memphis was not awarded a $34 million federal grant to pursue a much larger, 1,500-acre expansion of the industrial area located southwest of Downtown.

Since then, officials have been exploring the smaller expansion proposals, which would alleviate rail congestion while opening up new lands on Presidents Island, which has an annual economic impact of $1.7 billion, for future development.

“You would increase the rail capacity on Presidents Island, which frees up additional space in the existing system for other industries to use and removes some of the congestion issues we have with rail cars,” Richardson said. “You still have good service there now so what you’re talking about is expanding the capabilities there, which is the perfect kind of project to do.”

Canadian National Railway Co., U.S. Department of Commerce, Cargill, the state of Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the city of Memphis and Shelby County have already committed around $38 million toward the expansion project.

Meanwhile, CN has closed on the $1.1 million purchase of 95 acres to expand its existing intermodal terminal, which it shares with CSX Corp. on Paul Lowry Road inside Pidgeon. The industrial park is between Interstate 55 and the Mississippi River off Mallory Road south of Downtown.

CN also has an option to buy another roughly 825 acres nearby for a large distribution and logistics park it will develop with Ridge National Trust for customers who want to be near the expanded intermodal facility.

“This CN project really allows us to leverage their extensive North American rail network so you can bring in goods from around the globe down to Memphis, offload it and move it to a facility right there to be assembled and packaged and sent out to its final destination,” said EDGE president Reid Dulburger.

Increased activity inside Pidgeon, where tenants include Nucor Steel, Electrolux, Tennessee Valley Authority and CN, has left only 150 acres of the 3,500-acre industrial park uncommitted.

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