Roughly 25 acres of land that once housed a machine shop and supporting buildings at Heritage Center has been transferred to an economic development organization that finds new uses for former federal property.
The property transfer from the U.S. Department of Energy to the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee was celebrated in a Wednesday afternoon ceremony. It’s the 12th transfer from DOE to CROET, and the two dozen acres were signed over to CROET for private-sector use.
Among the speakers at Wednesday’s ceremony were U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, a Republican whose district includes Oak Ridge, and David Klaus, DOE’s deputy undersecretary for management and performance.
“The reindustrialization program in Oak Ridge has not only been an economic development catalyst for the region, it is saving tax payers millions of dollars as the federal government transfers underutilized assets to the private sector,” Fleischmann said.
The transfers of the parcels, officially known as ED-11 and ED-12, have been in the works for at least a few years. Lawrence Young, CROET president and chief executive officer, said there will some infrastructure improvements to make the property ready for development. Part of the property once housed Building 1401, an old machine shop that has now been demolished.
Young said Heritage Center was essentially at a point where no property was readily available for development, so the transfer of a large, flat piece of land provides a new opportunity for economic development. It completes the transfers in the center of the site. The rest are on the periphery, he said.
The 1,200-acre Heritage Center is the former K-25 site in west Oak Ridge. Heritage Center is now part of the East Tennessee Technology Park, which also includes the nearby Horizon Center.
“The transformation that has taken place at ETTP over the last two decades is astounding, and it shows what commitment and collaboration can accomplish,” Young said. “When you look at the two reuse initiatives at ETTP, Oak Ridge has benefitted by more than $100 million worth of capital investment and more than 1,000 jobs.”
So far, a press release said, eight of the properties transferred to CROET have been sold or optioned to private industry, saving DOE nearly $6.5 million while providing an increase of more than $60,000 in annual tax revenue to the City of Oak Ridge. Also, more than 200 acres of underused DOE property has been transferred to CROET and redeveloped with more than 100,000 square feet of new construction.
“Today’s transfer confirms the progress of our Environmental Management program,” said Mark Whitney, manager of the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management at the Department of Energy. “Our cleanup at the site is preparing land and facilities for transfer and creating opportunities that will benefit the region’s economy.
Officials at Wednesday’s ceremony said more than 700 acres have been transferred to CROET, and CROET has invested $7 million. Horizon Center was transferred to the Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board to provide more streamlined service for private sector companies looking to locate in the park, a press release said. CROET conveyed 500 acres to the IDB there, Young said.
“This community knows how to do deindustrialization,” said Whitney, who started in Oak Ridge close to two years ago and has accepted a new job at DOE headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Young said CROET has sold five buildings that it received in transfers and now controls about 50 acres. Next steps include developing the sites that it has, trying to get them into the private sector, and acquiring the property that once housed the K-33 Building, which was demolished with Recovery Act money. The final phase of that demolition project at the northwest side of Heritage Center wrapped up in July 2012. K-33 was a 1.4 million-square-foot gaseous diffusion plant built in 1954, and it enriched uranium until 1985.
For more information about CROET, visit www.CROET.com or call (865) 482-9890.