The old West Plant Alcoa, Inc., property off Hall Road will soon be developed by the Chattanooga company that redeveloped the Sunsphere and Worlds Fair site in Knoxville.
Alcoa, Inc., signed a letter of intent this morning with developers Kinsey, Probasco and Hayes to develop land where the company’s first plant was built in 1920.
The site could have retail, office space and possibly event a hotel, one Alcoa city official said.
Alcoa, Inc., said they didn’t want firms that would compete with the new research and development park. The company also stressed this development would have nothing to do with expanding any of the company’s aluminum production facilities, Alcoa, Inc. spokesperson Melissa Copelan said.
“We signed a letter of intent to redevelop the old West Plant property," said Copelan. "We’ve got a developer identified – Kinsey Probasco and Hayes. It’s a joint venture between KPH and the International Risk Group.”
Copelan said KPH will spend six to 12 months performing due diligence assessing the site and speaking with government and community stakeholders looking to see what they would like to happen on that property.
“This development does not have anything to do with an expansion of the plant. We’re not expanding facilities. This is a true redevelopment,” Copelan said. “Really, it’s too early to tell what will be (on the site) for sure. Alcoa isn’t taking the lead, the developers will.”
John Kinsey, former Chattanooga mayor and partner in KPH, said it was the firm’s goal to make sure the property was a world-class mixed-use development. Kinsey said the firm will work with Blount County, Alcoa city and the Alcoa city school system on the plans for the property.
“We think it’s a tremendous opportunity, and we’ve already spoken with city of Alcoa," Kinsey said, "and their leadership tells us they’ve been wanting this property to be redeveloped for quite some time. We look forward to working with them on maximizing the development potential of the property. We’ve already met with the school board chair and superintendent, and we will try and incorporate their future needs into the property. That will certainly be one of our goals.”
What Alcoa, Inc., doesn’t want is for the new development to compete with the new research and development park being planned near the terminus of Pellissippi Parkway, Copelan said.
Kinsey said that the firm is well aware of the Pellissippi research and development park. The new development will complement rather than compete with the new research and development park, he said.
Kinsey said that IRG is one of the most prominent brown field redevelopment firms in the country. Brown field property is land that has been previously used by industry. “There are not significant environmental challenges, but it was a former manufacturing plant so we want to make sure its all handled absolutely responsibly, and there’s nobody better than IRG to make sure that is done,” he said.
Copelan said the tract of property is about 350 acres. There are no buildings left on the property from the old West Plant, which was constructed by the company in 1920.
“It was Tennessee Operations first fabrications facility. At the time, our product line was a lot more diversified. The facility produced aluminum pie plates, siding and patio furniture,” she said. “The plant was idled in 1989 and demolished in the 1990s.”
The company has spent years deciding what to do with the tract. KPH and IRG stood out to them because of their resumes, Copelan said. “For us, selecting a developer with brown field experience was a priority,” Copelan said. “That’s the experience IRG brought. KPH has had experience with projects like the Sunsphere. They’ll play a large part in working with governments and the community to determine the best use of the property. That was very important for us,” she said.
Whether Alcoa, Inc., will lease or sell the property is still being discussed. “All those details are being worked out,” Copelan said.
Alcoa Assistant City Manager Bill Hammon said the development will be important for Alcoa and all of Blount County. The property is near where the proposed Alcoa Parkway will parallel Alcoa Highway which offers a connection to the airport and also provide quick access to the interstate system, he said. “It makes it more of a regional destination,” he said.
Hammon said the property is so large and will have a combination of uses. “It will have residential, retail, office space and possibly another hotel,” he said.
Hammon said the city was happy with the developers Alcoa, Inc., chose. “We’re very excited to work with the developers they selected. They have excellent reputations,” he said. “We look forward to putting plans together that will leave both short-term and long-term legacies.”