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VOL. 132 | NO. 139 | Friday, July 14, 2017

Agracel Transforms DeSoto County Industrial Site

By Patrick Lantrip

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Justyn Dixon, left, regional business director for Agracel Inc.’s Mid-South office, and Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors principal Patrick Walton inside the 258,300-square-foot warehouse Agracel recently bought and redeveloped. Walton is marketing the renovated property. (Daily News/Houston Cofield)

With massive speculative buildings popping up all over North Mississippi and a direct vacancy rate lower than 6 percent for DeSoto County industrial sites, it’s hard to imagine a developer would still be able to find a hidden gem among the existing inventory. But that’s exactly what Agracel Inc. did.

On paper, the 258,300-square-foot rail-served site at 10745 Marina Drive, just off Hacks Cross Road in Olive Branch, was almost too good to be true.

However, there was a catch.

“It was in really, really bad shape,” said Justyn Dixon, regional business director for Agracel’s Mid-South office. “I mean, it was ugly and dirty, and if you don’t do these (types of projects), then you can’t see the beautiful swan, so to speak. But having done them before, we knew we could turn it into something special.”

Dixon said the site was first brought to his attention by DeSoto County Economic Development Council president and CEO Jim Flanagan, who notified him that the former L.D. Brinkman manufacturing facility was about to go into bankruptcy.

“When Jim called me and said, ‘We have a tilt-up that’s rail-served right across from the airport in Olive Branch,’ I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’” Dixon said.

After about a three-month process, the Effingham, Illinois-based development company won the property in an auction.

“I’ll give the guy credit who was overseeing the building – he didn’t have a budget to work on but he did everything he could to keep it up,” Dixon said. “It was just a lot of deferred maintenance over the years. There were 20 or so tarps that were catching leaks from the roof and redirecting them down into the downspouts.”

Agracel’s renovation work included taking care of years of deferred maintenance at the facility, which previously was used for machining and grill production. (Daily News/Houston Cofield)

The first thing Dixon did was work with local contactor Jesco Inc. and a scrap metal company to remove a dozen or so metal presses that had been used in the previous company’s manufacturing process. After that, they demolished what couldn’t be saved, including about 9,000 square feet of office space.

“It just made a lot more sense to demo it, knock it down and just rebuild (office space) for whatever tenant gets in there,” he said.

Dixon said his company also gave the property a new roof, parking lot, lights, landscaping and lots and lots of paint.

“We really did all the things that needed to be done for years and years to bring it back up to pretty much like-new conditions,” he said. “

Now that the facility is back to its former glory, Agracel has tapped Cushman & Wakefield/Commercial Advisors principal Patrick Walton to handle its brokerage needs.

“Olive Branch is the most active submarket for development and leasing volume,” Walton said. “You can’t re-create a standalone building in the heart of Olive Branch with the features of this building – that is the exciting opportunity here for users as this space does not currently exist in North Mississippi.”

Dixon said that while most of the 14 million square feet of industrial space in 20 states his company manages is manufacturing, this facility in particular would also be perfect for a distribution or logistics outfit.

“Anything around the Memphis area is really hot, and having chased projects over the years in various capacities, we knew if we could get it at the right price and get everything done, we felt like we’d have a real winner on our hands,” he said.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 62 288 2,619
MORTGAGES 52 197 1,783
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 16 53 275
BUILDING PERMITS 0 569 5,701
BANKRUPTCIES 0 87 993
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 110 491
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0