|LUB lands Hutch
The deal closed Nov. 1 for $1 million, Loudon City/Utility Manager Ty Ross said.
“I’m pleased to report that the community has secured its downtown riverfront,” Ross said. “It is closed and the deed is recorded.”
The property initially went on the market for $1.5 million, but dropped to $1.35 million during negotiations. LUB ultimately got the price down to $1 million to pay for remediation of asbestos and underground tanks on site.
Ross said there is no urgency for remediation.
“The timetable for that is just when the property would need to be used,” he said. “It’s ultimate use will influence the time of the remediation. It could be sooner or it could be later, but we’re in the process of planning the property’s future design along with marketing it toward potential anchors, one of which, of course, could be an administrative headquarters building for the utility and the city, but that remains to be seen. We want to do everything in lockstep with the community and its representatives.”
Revamping the property first includes rebranding the water tower, which City Councilman Johnny James said could take place before the end of the year. James also serves as a board member for LUB.
“I think it’s a true landmark in the community,” Ross said of the water tower. “I mean if you had to pick one or two things that identify Loudon, it’d be near or at the top of the list. If you look at all the infrastructures on the Hutch site, I think it’s the structure that has the most sentiment in the community. It’s probably the structure that the community would hate to do without.”
Officials have not yet determined what to do with the acquisition.
“We would like to develop it in some way, but it’s just hard to say exactly (how it will be used),” James said. “We’ve been to Chattanooga and looked at Chattanooga’s waterfront. We’re just checking all around to see what we can do. We’ve applied for grants to see what grants are available. ... It’s up in the air right now because we don’t know what we’re going to do for sure.”
The former manufacturing plant has been closed since January 2012.
The late Lynn Mills, former city/utility manager, was interested in the property for the city and LUB at the time of its closure.
“It’s something that — I’m new to the community and to have this happen in a relatively short period of time since I’ve been here is truly a blessing,” Ross said. “I know it’s been talked about for a long time. It’s been considered for a long time. There’s been a lot of hard work put in by many people — elected officials, board members, staff before I arrived here, but to have it now at our disposal, it’s like a blank canvas.”