Major retailer eyes West Plant property
By Iva Butler | (email@example.com)
The West Plant development build-out is expected to take 20 years for the full potential of the 325 acres to be realized, Alcoa officials estimate.
The original site was 356 acres, but 30-plus acres were taken for the ball fields and new Alcoa High School site.
The developers, Probasco Hays (KPH) of Chattanooga and International Risk Group (IRG) of Littleton, Colo., are talking with a major retailer that would be new to this area, according to Alcoa City Manager Mark Johnson.
The retailer does not want to be named unless it decides to locate on the West Plant site, which is bordered by Hall Road, Alcoa Highway, Hunt Road, Mills Street and Faraday Street. In fact, the company will not locate here if the word gets out before officials make a decision, he said.
If the retailer decides to locate here, he expects it would open its doors by July 2013.
“The major retailer would be beneficial to the city and to schools. It would keep the sales taxes from going across the river (to Knoxville),” Johnson told Alcoa commissioners in a briefing Thursday.
“This is a retailer we want that we don’t have and they have big sales,” Johnson said.
The retailer would be a big enough draw to make people in the region drive here to shop with us, he said. It would be a catalyst for other development because they would want to locate beside the new store that would draw customers.
Johnson said the city “tried to come up with the least invasive (transportation) plan for the neighborhood.”
Springbrook area residents recently told commissioners that they did not have sufficient notification of a meeting held March 15 for residents on the possible road pattern in and out of the development.
The city has scheduled open houses from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, at Alcoa Service Center off North Wright Road.
Staff will be available to explain the three alternatives for a road out of the site. The road is expected to be a secondary entrance/exit once a new Hunt Road interchange is built. The plan also calls for Associates Boulevard to be extended across Hall Road to run through the first phase of the development.
Johnson said he thinks it would take five to eight years for Tennessee Department of Transportation to get the Hunt Road interchange completed. He thinks it would be closer to five years because TDOT is calling it a priority.
The three alternates off Mills street are between Hoopes and Frary streets, Frary Street, and Alcoa Road. People will have until Friday to turn in their preferences.
The West Plant operated from 1920 to 1989 and was demolished in 1996 and 1997.
Alcoa was the first planned city in Tennessee and “the neighborhood was built to service that plant,” Johnson said. “All the traffic to that plant used Mills Street. They had around 800 employees when it closed in 1989. They had two shifts a day,” Johnson said.
Over its life the West Plant produced powder, airplane sheet, tubing, roofing products, beverage can stock, litho sheet, foil, venetian blind stock and brazing sheet.
The property is still zoned Heavy Industrial.
Johnson said “this development will have less of an impact (on the neighborhood) than the West Plant used to be.
“A few years ago we dissuaded the people in Pittsburgh (ALCOA Inc. headquarters) from putting in a North Park-type development with warehousing and light industrial. We did not think that would be a good use of that property.
“Something is going to get built on this piece of property,” he added.
In this first phase the developers are avoiding a massive 40-acre slab, which is buried under a few feet of dirt. Hopes are to use the slab as foundations for development.