Rossville's Peerless Mill listed for sale

Rossville's Peerless Mill listed for sale

November 17th, 2011 by Andy Johns in News

The old Peerless Wood Mill in Rossville is up for sale.

Photo by Alex Washburn/Times Free Press.

Rossville's Peerless Mill is up for sale.

"We would accept offers today," said Art Waldrop, a broker with UGL Services, which is selling the property.

Waldrop said his group is drawing up plans, taking measurements and writing legal documents related to the sale of Rossville's biggest piece of land. The group hopes to begin marketing the property in the next 30 days.

"It's a great thing to have it available," said Rossville Mayor-elect Teddy Harris. "There's all types of good things that can happen with that property. Anything is an improvement."

The mill sits on 27 acres and is between 900,000 and 1.1 million square feet, about the size of Hamilton Place mall.

Waldrop said his group hasn't yet developed a price, but it is looking for "the quickest way to dispose of the property."

"The goal is to sell it," he said.

Built in 1905, the Peerless once employed thousands of workers as one of the largest woolen mills in the world. The facility was sold to Burlington Industries in 1952, then taken over by the Hutcheson family and the Rossville Development Corp. before a disastrous fire in June 1967. No one died, but 15 industries that rented space were destroyed.

In 2007, Les Coffey bought the mill from the Hutchesons for $1.3 million. He claims to have spent more than $800,000 to rehab the buildings during his ownership, which has involved disputes, lawsuits and countersuits with the city over the past few years.

When the mill filed for bankruptcy in December 2008, Coffey owed Rossville Development Corp. almost $1.1 million, records show. In court filings, creditors including Tennessee American Water and EPB listed $18,514 in other debts.

In February, Coffey started to demolish the buildings with the goal of having the site leveled and turned into a scrapyard by Dec. 31. But attorneys for the Hutchesons said the sale terms prohibit Coffey from tearing down the mill without the consent of the family and the Rossville Development Corp. In March, attorneys filed a complaint asking to declare Coffey in default.

The property now is being managed by a bankruptcy trustee, who hired Waldrop to sell the mill.

"He's supposed to be finding the best deal for everybody," Coffey said. "It'll have to be fair to everyone."

He said the property had been appraised at $2.9 million.

Waldrop said the land has plenty of selling points, including a rail link and proximity to Interstate 75.

Harris said the property also has access to underground fiber-optic lines.

Ron Wade, chairman of the Rossville Downtown Development Authority, said potential buyers already have looked into the site. New development, he said, would be a "great benefit to all of us" and would help rid the town of some "ugliness."

"It's a crucial area for us," said Wade, who added that he's open to several types of developments at the site.

"It would be wide open what could go in there."