published Monday, May 28th, 2012

Arnold Air Force Base opens 152 acres to development plans in Coffee County, Tenn.

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Learn more about the Request For Information at and at the website for the Air Force Real Property Agency. Proposals should identify data, opportunities, issues, concerns and challenges associated with developing projects.

The U.S. Air Force is seeking input from private industries and businesses on possible commercial development for 152 acres at Arnold Air Force Base in Coffee County, Tenn.

"This is what's called an enhanced-use lease opportunity, where we offer land at a fair market value to enhance use of that land," Arnold Engineering and Development Center spokesman Jason Austin said. "Generally, there's a benefit to the government and the lessee."

Arnold asked for the input -- technically called a Request For Information -- in March.

The Air Force doesn't have "preconceived notions" about long-term uses for the property, he said. The government is fishing for ideas on long-term uses for the land that benefit the lease-holder and the government, he said.

The property lies along state Highway 55, just north of Bowling Alley Road and south of the former landfill in Manchester, Tenn., according to Air Force officials and documents.

"Our intention is to do something commercial on the front side of the property and maybe something industrial on the back side," Coffee County Mayor David Pennington said Friday. "It will open up a lot of commercial property for development along Highway 55."

Austin said other areas of the base already have enhanced-use leases, including the Tennessee National Guard and a local gun club. The University of Tennessee Space Institute property was enhanced-lease land until it was given to the university system awhile back, according to Austin.

Selling points for the 152 acres are utilities already running near the property and the fact that it's in an isolated corner of the base at the Manchester city limits, he said.

A farmer is subleasing the property now as crop land, he said, though he was not able to say what the farmer was growing on the property this season.

The tract once drew the interest of Coffee County officials as a site for a new county jail, but that facility wound up being built elsewhere, Austin said.

Air Force officials say development proposals might include concepts for manufacturing, distributing, warehousing, offices, residential facilities, mixed uses, industrial facilities, and renewable or alternative energy operations.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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