Auto supplier, 300 jobs proposed for Chattanooga's Enterprise South industrial park

A sign marks the entrance to Enterprise South on Bonnie Oaks Drive. / Staff file photo

Chattanooga and Hamilton County are proposing to sell two Enterprise South industrial park tracts to a private developer to attract an auto supplier and up to 300 new jobs.

Chattanooga Industrial LLC, the development group, also is taking an option on another parcel at the industrial park to house potential future companies.

Jeff Londis of Chattanooga Industrial on Wednesday wouldn't immediately name the auto supplier, but said work could start at the site later this year.

"Our hope is to move expeditiously," he said about the proposed project off Hickory Valley Road near the Volkswagen auto assembly plant. "We're working with the [Chattanooga] Chamber and the city and county and the supplier to develop the property."

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said the developer would build the facility and then lease it. He said the development group hasn't asked for incentives.

According to a resolution brought before the County Commission on Wednesday and before the City Council on Tuesday night, the two tracts for the automotive supplier would total 27.3 acres. The nearby option property includes 16.2 more acres.

The purchase price for the 27.3 acres is $851,600. The price for the option parcel would be $570,400, the resolution said.

A building involving the supplier tracts could be about 237,000 square feet in size, according to the developer, which is a partnership of Londis' White Oak Enterprises in McDonald, Tennessee, and Tenby Partners of Columbus, Ohio. On the option property, a structure could be about 162,500 square feet.

Over five years, the sites could hold up to 600 jobs, the developer said.

Development costs at the sites are estimated at between $29.9 million and $39.9 million, according to the developer.

While two tracts are aimed at the auto suppler, the option parcel could hold other manufacturers, distributors or logistics providers, the developer said.

Charles Wood, the Chamber's vice president of economic development, said that salaries would average more than $40,000 annually at the auto supplier.

"Staying focused on economic development during economic downturns is as critical for our region as it is when times are good," Wood said.

Charita Allen, the city's deputy administrator for economic development, said the Enterprise South parcels present a challenge with access and site prep that has been unattractive to previously interested parties.

"This particular developer came to us - meaning the city, county and Chamber - with a plan that would allow for maximum development of the property, which is in the best interest of the city and county," she said. Additionally, Tenby Partners has experience in class A flex industrial development, which is non-existent in the Chattanooga area right now, Allen said.

Enterprise South emerged from the former Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant, which provided the U.S. Army with ammunition going back to World War II.

Nearly two decades ago, city and Hamilton County leaders crafted plans to acquire most of the remaining VAAP site with the intent of landing a major manufacturer such as VW to the property.

Volkswagen, which picked Chattanooga for its only U.S. vehicle assembly plant in 2008, is undertaking an $800 million expansion to produce a new electric SUV.

Assembly of the SUV in Chattanooga, dubbed the ID.4, will launch in 2022, according to the automaker.

Contact Mike Pare at Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.