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TVA OKs 40 more acres at Phipps Bend for industrial development

Jeff Bobo • Updated Feb 22, 2018 at 4:04 PM
SURGOINSVILLE — The Tennessee Valley Authority recently gave Hawkins County the go-ahead to begin marketing an additional 40 acres of flat land at Phipps Bend that was previously off-limits due to existing infrastructure.

That 40 acres is located in the far southeast corner of the Phipps Bend Industrial Park between the skeleton of the old TVA nuclear plant cooling tower and the Holston River.

Hawkins County Industrial Development Board Chairman Larry Elkins told his board Thursday there had been a question about the location of the grounding mats for the electrical substation at the park.

TVA had prohibited the IDB and Phipps Bend Joint Venture from marketing that property to prospective new industry due to the belief that those grounding mats were located within that 40 acres.

As it turns out, there are two cables buried five feet deep running through that property between the substation and the grounding mats, which are located in the adjacent floodplain.

Elkins said that 40 acres is as flat as a table and perfect for development.

“That opens up about 40 more acres that have really good prospects for industrial recruitment and development,” he said.

The property is also adjacent to three other parcels that total a little over 150 acres, including the cooling tower skeleton, which could be razed if the right project comes along.

Brian Ritz from NETWORKS Sullivan Partnership said the extra 40 acres will make Phipps Bend more attractive to a wider range of potential new industry.

“Great news on the grounding mats,” Ritz told the IDB. “I am very pleased to hear that. When you’re dealing with a large-acre parcel, just being able to add 30-40 acres to that property, obviously that opens the door for maybe some additional projects that previously you may not have submitted on because you didn’t fit the criteria.

“The way that contiguous land is structured there on that large parcel that we have at Phipps Bend will open the door to do more RFI (request for information) submissions, and that’s how the funnel works.”

IDB goes into executive session

The IDB went into executive session during Thursday’s meeting to discuss two pending industrial proposals that aren’t yet ready to be revealed to the public.

Generally when the IDB goes into executive session, it’s to discuss and/or approve a tax deferment proposal for a company looking to buy property or for an expansion of an existing plant.

Companies involved in those types of negotiations demand privacy until the deal is finalized and they can make their own public announcement.

More than likely one of those projects involves Hawkins County’s $1.3 million spec building at Phipps Bend which has been vacant since it was constructed in 2009.

“We’re continuing to go through the normal process with regards to a couple of projects that we’ve reported on previously,” Ritz told the IDB prior to the executive session. “Having to do all the due diligence that comes with that and making sure that during these times we’re very detail oriented as you get closer to hopefully that announcement — that closing of that project. We’re very hopeful about that and think things are going really well.”

Price tag for Phipps Bend Road lighting

Holston Electric provided the IDB with a cost estimate for installing and maintaining light poles on Phipps Bend Road from the Main Street stop signs south into the park.

The cost is $17,000 with a monthly electric bill of $350. Elkins said he will request those funds in Hawkins County’s 2018-19 budget.

HCSO substation approved at Phipps Bend

Elkins reported that on Wednesday the Phipps Bend Joint Venture committee approved use of the Phipps Bend fire station as a Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office substation.

Both the lighting and the substation had been requested by Phipps Bend industries.

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