Officials are celebrating the sale of federal land east of Oak Ridge National Laboratory that could be used to help an industrial company expand.
The 20-acre parcel had been owned by the U.S. Department of Energy in Oak Ridge. The property is adjacent to the Bethel Valley Industrial Park in south Oak Ridge and west of Protomet. The company had sought the property for a planned expansion.
The parcel was sold to the Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board, or IDB, on October 20.
The IDB, which served as a conduit, then sold the land to Protomet. The company is evaluating the site as one option as it plans for a $30 million expansion that could add 200 jobs over a five-year period.
Officials said the sale was the result of a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office and the Real Property Disposal Division of the General Services Administration, or GSA, in Region 4 in Atlanta, Georgia. The sale was finalized by the GSA and IDB in October.
In a press release, DOE said the IDB, working with the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce, asked DOE’s Oak Ridge Office, or ORO, about the availability of the land for possible economic development in August 2015.
“DOE in Oak Ridge has transferred numerous parcels of excess real estate to economic development agencies in the region over the years—a process that can take up to two years to complete,” the press release said. “In the case of this 20-acre parcel, it was recognized early that transferring ownership of the land could result in a substantial economic benefit to the city.”
“DOE responded very quickly to develop a path forward to help create economic opportunity in Oak Ridge,” said Ken Tarcza, ORO manager.
The press release said ORO completed a number of preliminary actions, including a determination that the land could be made available for disposition. Consultations with GSA resulted in that agency using its resources and land disposition authorities to rapidly conclude the sale to the IDB, the press release said.
“Our partnership with the GSA’s Atlanta office proved to be the key to making this transaction happen,” Tarcza said. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome and the extraordinary assistance of GSA.”
Discussing the complexities associated with real estate transactions, Phil Andrews, Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce chair, said: “This proves what can happen when people commit to a greater good. There were no ‘stove pipe’ decisions, and there was no concern about who would get credit for success or blame for failure. Everything was focused on results.”
“Slightly a year after that first conversation with the Oak Ridge Office, the sale of the land through GSA has been accomplished,” said David Wilson, IDB chair. “That’s fast by anyone’s standards.”
Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch attributed this success to the long-standing partnerships that exist in and around Oak Ridge.
“That’s the benefit of partnerships,” Gooch said. “A team comes together and works an economic development opportunity, whether it is new business, expanding business, retail, or industrial.”
In recent years, the press release said, DOE organizations in Oak Ridge have transferred 31 parcels of DOE-owned land, totaling more than 975 acres, to economic development agencies, including the City of Oak Ridge and the IDB.
See this previous story on Protomet’s plans as it evaluates the Oak Ridge site for a $30 million expansion.
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