With the approval, Erwin Town Recorder Glenn Rosenoff estimated the 16-acre site could be leveled, seeded and ready for sale to industrial and/or commercial developers by early spring.
The project is being funded through $250,000 in grants from the TVA Invest Prep program. The remaining $141,532 of the site preparation cost is being invested by the town, which purchased the property in 2013.
The town allocated $107,143 for the project in its 2017-18, leaving $51,038 of the cost to be met by a future budget amendment or through potential proceeds from the sale of the property.
Rosenoff said several developers have toured and otherwise expressed interest in developing the site over the past year.
Lee Brown, chairman of the Joint Economic Development Board of Unicoi County, told the board Monday the property has also been evaluated by two professional development specialist groups that both recommended the silos be removed and the property cleared.
“We have prospects,” Brown said of the site’s potential for development. “TVA provided $250,000 and see that investment as a great prospect for jobs for the community, which is what we need.”
Lee recommended the board’s approval, saying “I think the bids are very competitive.”
“We will never have a less-expensive opportunity to clean that up than we do today,” Brown said.
Vice Mayor Gary Edwards made the motion to the approve the least expensive of the bids submitted by DH Griffin Companies of Bristol, Va.
Aldermen Virgil Moore, Gary Chandler and Rachelle Shurtz simultaneously seconded the motion.
And with Alderman Mark Lefever absent, the bid was approved by a unanimous vote of five to zero.
In addition to Brown’s recommendation for the silos to be removed, an alternate bid package that would have left the silos in place was not recommended by the project’s consulting engineers, S&ME Inc.
Rosenoff told the board that interested investors who have toured the property have routinely asked about the town’s plans for the silos. In response, Rosenoff said, if the silos are not needed by the investor, “our plan is to get rid of them.”
The site’s gutted metal buildings were removed from the property in August following an online auction that netted about $24,000 in revenues for the town.
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