Kensington site draws interest

Kensington site draws interest

August 20th, 2010 by Andy Johns in News

Staff Photo by Laura-Chase McGehee/Chattanooga Times Free Press/ August 19, 2010 Pools of still water speckle the floor reflecting the dilapidated remains of the former Barwick-Archer Carpet Plant in Kensington, GA. The Plant boasts over a million-square feet of property, yet only four small businesses occupy a fraction of the space.

Staff Photo by Laura-Chase McGehee/Chattanooga Times Free Press/...

A 900,000-square-foot former carpet plant in Walker County that has been partially vacant since the early 1980s suddenly is getting interest from industrial tenants, but authorities won't say who.

"There has been a lot of activity," said Keith Barclift, a project manager for the Northwest Georgia Joint Development Authority. "People say it's more than usual and that's good."

The site, a former Barwick-Archer plant listed at 909,575 square feet with a 30-foot-high ceiling in spots, sits on more than 200 acres. The available space is a big reason for the interest.

"They see that 1 million square feet and they're automatically interested," Barclift said.

Drennon Crutchfield, who owns the property, leases some of the space to a few small businesses, including a siding manufacturer and truck bed production company.

He said businesses have shown interest, but the site is in Kensington, between LaFayette, Ga., and the Alabama line on state Highway 341, 10 miles from U.S. 27, so it's "just out of the way a little bit."

"It's a great area for someone to buy," Crutchfield said. "It could be used for anything. We're just trying to get somebody in there for some rough industrial."

Crutchfield said he'd heard a hydroponic agricultural business was looking at the site, but he said the Joint Development Authority is handling the contacts.

The authority is marketing 46 sites in Walker, Dade, Chattooga and Catoosa counties, Barclift said. The agency has made it to the "secondary stages" of talks with a few companies about some of the locations and had a handful of solid prospects, he said.

Personnel with a company had talked with officials in Rossville earlier this year about building a hydroponic farm at the Barwick-Archer site, but no names were released. Hydroponics is the process of growing vegetables in greenhouses using liquids and nutrients rather than soil.

Walker County Commissioner Bebe Heiskell said she knew of two or three organizations looking at the site. The plant sits next to a rail spur, but a failing trestle has left the line unusable, she said. If a company decided to locate at the site, the county would get the line fixed, she said.

"I'd be more than willing to make sure it gets done," she said.

Heiskell said she always has thought the site could make a great equestrian center, but she said officials are open to almost anything.