Grant helping prepare vacant 120-acre industrial site at Phipps Bend for market

Jeff Bobo • Jun 29, 2020 at 8:00 AM

ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County was awarded a $100,000 state grant last week that will put the Phipps Bend Industrial Park one step closer to being the home of the largest shovel-ready vacant industrial location in Northeast Tennessee.

On Thursday, Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe announced eight new industrial Site Development Grants across Tennessee totaling more than $2.3 million.

Among those grants was $100,000 for the Hawkins County Industrial Development Board to conduct “due diligence” studies on a 120-acre tract at Phipps Bend which is divided by an active sewer line.

Those due diligence studies are required before the IDB can apply for additional grant funding to have the sewer line relocated to roads adjacent to the property.

There’s also a large trench on that land that was installed during construction of the canceled nuclear power plant project there in the early 1980s. The trench was intended as an emergency drain for the cooling tower, and it will have to be filled before the property can be marketed for industrial development.

Hawkins County Industrial Coordinator Rebecca Baker told the Times News Friday that the engineering firm of Mattern and Craig will conduct the due diligence study, and there is currently no timeline for completion.

Some local matching funds will be required to pay for the study, and she said a second grant is being sought to help cover that expense.

The due diligence report will include a threatened and endangered species study; a cultural and archaeological survey; a drainage ditch relocation feasibility study; the sewer line relocation study; a water supply study; and a site grading plan.

“We don’t suspect that any of the issues they’re looking at in this study will be a problem, but it still has to be done,” Baker said. “We can’t get started on the other (sewer line relocation) application until this is completed.”

In 2018, the international industrial site assessor KPMG gave the 120-acre area adjacent to Phipps Bend’s abandoned nuclear power plant cooling tower a positive review.

The KPMG study identified the sewer line and trench as deficiencies, but stated, “Once developed, the site will offer a unique availability of power and acreage in the Northeast Tennessee market.”

The overall cost of the project was estimated last year at $2 million.

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