Sometimes, they don't come if you build it.
That's the quandary Crossville leaders have found themselves in with a 20-acre site that includes a shovel-ready building pad in Interchange Business Park meant to entice industries offering higher-paying jobs.
“We're not even getting looked at now,” said Councilman Art Gernt.
In hopes of remedying that, Crossville City Council is cutting its asking price to $40,000 per acre, a reduction per acre of $60,000.
“We've been at $100,000, and we've had no hits,” Mayor James Mayberry said about his proposed reduction, which met with Council approval Tuesday. “The Economic Development Department at the state of Tennessee recommends $20,000-$25,000. That's why I came up with kind of a compromise at the $40,000 mark.”
The 200,000-square-foot building pad is designed to allow for quick construction turnaround should an industrial prospect be identified. The site can accommodate about 225 parking spaces and a loading area.
The $1 million project was developed through a partnership with Cumberland County. The city was awarded a $500,000 state grant, with both governmental bodies each committing matching funds of $250,000.
Though the price has dropped, Mayberry stressed that requirements for potential buyers have not. Those requirements include offering a minimum of 100 jobs at a wage rate that's 10% above that offered the standard industrial rate in the city.
Tuesday's decision was not unanimous. Councilman J.H. Graham III balked at the price reduction.
“We have paid more than $75,000 an acre on that piece of property,” he said. “I vote no.”
Graham supported a suggestion to reduce the price, but to $60,000-$80,000 per square acre. He expressed worry that the lower cost would attract less-appealing industries to snap up the site.
“I think we're opening ourselves up to $10-$12 an hour people who want it as an investment,” he said earlier Tuesday.
“I think we've got a gem, boys. I think it's a diamond.”
Gernt said the mayor's suggestion is in line with research he's conducted via Select Tennessee, a state economic program that helps communities prepare sites for private investment and job creation.
“The average is going anywhere between $18,000 to $35,000-$40,000ish,” he noted. “Obviously, we're not getting any looks at $100,000.”
Councilman Rob Harrison said the $40,000 per acre is reasonable. He pointed out the city invested in the project to bring in jobs, and it's not meeting that goal by offering the acreage at a higher rate. It needs to be priced, he added, at a marketable rate.
“Anyone who purchases this property is going to be negotiating with the city,” Shanks pointed out. “Any company wanting to purchase this land that does not fit the criteria, most likely, we're not going to be selling it to them, anyway.”