The county is considering buying the former Ceramaspeed building for $2.7 million and putting the Highway Department there rather than on leased property in Alcoa.
County Mayor Jerry Cunningham sent a letter to commissioners on Oct. 30 notifying them of the availability of the building as the British company located at the former Levi plant on McArthur Road plans to cease operations and move to Mexico.
Cunningham said the county would own the property on McArthur Road as opposed to leasing property on North Wright Road from the City of Alcoa .
“We would have the deed to the property and not only be ready for immediate occupancy and take care of immediate needs but it would satisfy needs for years to come,” he said.
The location they currently plan to lease has 23,000 square feet while the Ceramaspeed building has 49,000 square feet of warehouse space, alone which could be used for repair bays. The whole facility has 140,000 square together on 23 acres, Cunningham said.
The mayor said when he first heard about the opportunity, he thought it didn’t hurt to look. “I knew we had problems because we were going to have to crunch the dimensions of building at Alcoa in order to financially make it work so we were going into building a cramped facility,” he said. “I was very interested in it. I felt the commission would be.”
Cunningham said he considers himself the messenger and didn’t want to go to the commission until he had the absolute bottom dollar for commissioners to consider. “The bottom dollar figure of $2.7 million is what Ceramaspeed owes on it,” he said. “I think it’s worthy of the commission’s consideration.”
The mayor said he’d like to make space available to some elected officials for satellite offices for convenience. “A lot of times there’s peak parking around courthouse. We could make a satellite county clerks office and a satellite trustees office,” he said.
Cunningham said there also is a huge cafeteria area that could accommodate records for year and years to come. “This could consolidate all records and space would be there for expansion many, many years,” he said.
The mayor said one possibility that’s interesting to him would be if records moved from the Hubbard School on Tuckaleechee Pike, then the Community Action Agency that’s also located there could be moved to space in former Health Department just off East Lamar Alexander Parkway. The Hubbard property could then be sold as surplus to help defray the cost of the Ceramaspeed property.