Chattanooga developers want to buy 70-acre riverfront tract, environmentally scrub site to attract new industry

Chattanooga developers want to buy 70-acre riverfront tract, environmentally scrub site to attract new industry

July 1st, 2019 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

The Tennessee River rolls by the site of the former Central Soya plant on July 1, 2019. Fletcher Bright Realty is trying to get the abandoned Central Soya site on the brownfield cleanup program to redevelop the riverfront site for more industry.

Photo by Robin Rudd /Times Free Press.

Gallery: Former Central Soya site

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“It's no secret there's a shortage of land around town.”
Fletcher Bright Co. President George Bright

A Chattanooga development group wants to buy a 70-acre tract along the city's riverfront just minutes from downtown, environmentally scrub the site and ready it for new industry.

"We think there are opportunities there," said George Bright, president of the Fletcher Bright Co., about the parcel that for many years was known as the Central Soya site.

The property, which includes large towers easily seen hovering over the Tennessee River, has been accepted into the state's brownfield remediation program.

The aim is to speed the redevelopment of the site, which is owned by food processing giant Archer Daniels Midland but under contract to Fletcher Bright Co. and targeted for redevelopment by its affiliate, Bean Bowl LLC.

Located next to Hamilton County's Centre South Riverport industrial park, Bright said plans are to put the land into the brownfield program and close on the sale, adding that the tract will most likely be used to woo industrial prospects.

He noted the parcel has river access, which is key to some industrial users.

Also, Bright said, Chattanooga has a scarcity of available industrial space.

"It's no secret there's a shortage of land around town," he said.

Photo illustration

Central Soya built the soy crushing facility and feed mill in Chattanooga in the mid-1950s. It was later acquired by ADM in 1991 and in 2001, that company announced it planned to close the vegetable oil refinery and hydrogenation facility.

Within the past decade or so, Chattanooga has seen its industrial park space fill up. Enterprise South industrial park, the 6,000-acre location off Bonny Oaks Drive, has become home to Volkswagen's auto assembly plant, which now employs about 3,500 people.

Also, Amazon built a huge distribution center nearby where it employs an estimated 2,000 to 2,500 full-time employees, and VW parts supplier Gestamp has major operations in the industrial park.

A handful of other companies also have facilities in the former World War II ammunitions production site, and VW has an option on hundreds of additional acres for future expansion.

Charles Wood, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's vice president of economic developmentm, said that redeveloping brownfield property like the Central Soya site supports its economic development goals.

"The more space in our region for industrial and manufacturing activity, the more potential we have to land projects that create jobs and grow the tax base," he said.

The Chamber of Commerce has joined with other economic development groups in the 16-county region to form the Greater Chattanooga Economic Partnership to market the area.

Doug Berry, vice president of economic development for the Cleveland-Bradley Chamber of Commerce, said he's glad to see the potential reuse of the Central Soya property in Chattanooga.

"There's kind of a shortage of that," he said. "A riverfront site to serve the region is valuable to all of us."

Berry cited the Spring Branch Industrial Park, a new 331-acre site just off Interstate-75 in Cleveland, which economic developers are pitching to prospects.

"We've been actively marketing the site," he said. "We have several leads who have expressed interest and are evaluating it."

According to the state's brownfield agreement with Bean Bowl LLC, investigations of the Central Soya property have identified the presence of foundry sand, asbestos-containing material, lead-based paint, and petroleum-related and/or hazardous substances.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.