City, County To Get Final 1,787 Acres Of VAAP Property

Deal With Federal Government Set To Close In April

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The city and county have reached agreement with the federal government to acquire the last 1,787 acres of property at the Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant in Tyner.

County Mayor Claude Ramsey said one 400-acre parcel is adjacent to the original 900 acres in the Enterprise South Industrial Park and will further the goal of having a "mega site" to attract a major industrial prospect.

Another 363 acres along Hickory Valley Road will be parceled out for smaller businesses and industries.

The third tract is 1,024 acres, Mr. Ramsey said.

He said, "This fulfills half of my dream. The other half is putting industry in there."

Mr. Ramsey said the deal should close in April.

The city and county will pay $10,750 an acre, $4.3 million, for the 400-acre parcel.

The price for the 363 acres is $7,713 an acre, $2.8 million.

Mr. Ramsey said the city and county will have 10 years to pay off the 1,024 acres at $5,370 per acre. Payments will be made earlier if any portions are sold.

The county mayor said the Chamber of Commerce staff is actively marketing the huge site.

Mr. Ramsey said the county's half of the cost of the land will come from the county's economic development fund. Proceeds from land sold by the county go into that fund.

County Commission Chairman Fred Skillern said, "We now have a mega site. We have medium sites. And we have smaller sites."

He added, "We may be painting ourself in a corner because we are running out of excuses" (for bringing in industry to Enterprise South).

The total acquisition will more than double the size of Enterprise South, bringing the total acreage of the industrial park to almost 3,000 acres, including the 400 acres needed to meet TVA Mega Site Certification.

The acquisition places the entire former Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant (VAAP) site – some 6,000 acres -- under control of the city and county, which have been working with the General Services Administration (GSA) for eight years to acquire the property.

“We have partnered with the GSA and the U.S. Army to realize the dream the city and county have had for many years to acquire the VAAP property for economic development and recreational use by the public,” said Mr. Ramsey.

"The addition of the remaining available land at Enterprise South is a tremendous milestone for our community and will make the park a site selector's dream," said Mayor Bob Corker. "This land acquisition further enhances our ability to recruit large and small businesses to our community and to create great, high-paying new jobs for our citizens for many decades."

According to U.S. Congressman Zach Wamp, the land acquisition is the culmination of many years of effort. “The cooperation by both County Mayor Ramsey and Mayor Corker has furthered Sen. Thompson’s and my actions six years ago to take a void in the Chattanooga landscape and turn in into something productive,” said Congressman Zach Wamp. “They have taken our work and continued to transform an enormous resource into a gold mine for private development. Clearly doors will be opened as this transaction takes us into the Mega Site status.”

“We have a nearby interstate, an interstate exit under construction, utility infrastructure, dual rail service and now more than the amount of acreage required for virtually any kind of industrial project,” Mr. Ramsey said. “With a Mega Site ready for development, Chattanooga enjoys a distinct advantage in the highly competitive site selection process for new automotive manufacturing facilities, among others.”

Trevor Hamilton, vice president of economic development at the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, said that once Enterprise South gains certification as an auto assembly plant site, the park would qualify for almost any other industry.

“There is hardly any other industrial project more demanding than an automobile assembly facility,” he said. “Already our participation with TVA in the Mega Site certification project has provided us with great exposure to site selection consultants and automotive-related projects.”

The purchase price of 763 acres of the latest acquisition is $7.1 million, with the city and county each paying $3.55 million.

The additional 1,024 acres will be acquired through special legislation approved by Congress in 1999 through the efforts of Wamp, Thompson and Senator Bill Frist.

The acquisition announced Thursday is the latest in the city and county’s purchase of VAAP acreage. In September of 2000 the city and county purchased 940 acres of the VAAP property for economic development purposes. In April 2003 the county and city purchased an additional 262 acres, and in November of 2003 the governments purchased eight acres for a grand total of 1,210 acres.

In addition, the GSA transferred 2,800 acres of the VAAP property to the city and county for use as a passive park. The acreage was approved by the National Park Service for recreational uses last summer.

The city and county have continued negotiations with the General Services Administration for the purchase of the remaining economic development property at VAAP in order to allow Enterprise South to become a certified Mega Site to attract large industries.

Last August, McCallum-Sweeney Consulting, which helped analyze more than 25 major industrial sites for Mega Site certification in the TVA service area, called “Chattanooga’s team presentation . . . one of the best we saw. It was clear to us that the whole community is behind this effort.”

Enterprise South was listed as a certified contingent Mega Site for a major auto plant, with full certification depending in part on the acquisition of 400 more acres.

McCallum-Sweeney recommended the additional 400 acres to “square off” the Mega Site location at Enterprise South that the Chamber presented to consultants last summer.

The GSA is the federal agency responsible for disposing of surplus federal land. The VAAP was idled after the end of the Vietnam War.

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