Marketing a former nerve gas site

October 29, 2009
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Here’s a challenge for a savvy brokerage.

Vermillion County in western Indiana is preparing to take over the Newport Chemical Depot, where the Army stored nerve gas for a number of years.

About 3,500 acres of the site is expected to be redeveloped for business in the next couple of years. Destruction of the gas was completed last year.

But with a stigma like that, who would want to locate there?

Barbara Coles, who runs a public relations firm in Indianapolis, says the site will need to be marketed with transparency, honesty and lots of facts to overcome the stigma. One more time: Lots of facts.

Several independent sources will need to be called in to verify the site is safe based on verifiable tests. “You need to go in feeling very, very comfortable with the credibility and the facts,” Coles says.

She also would price it at fair market value to remove any suspicion the site has so much as a trace of unsafe chemicals.

How would you pitch the site? Will it be any harder to market than a house where a grisly murder took place?

 

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  • That place is probably cleaner than your grandmas kitchen table. A friend who worked for a local health department would always eat at a restaurant shortly after it got dinged for major health violations. Is reasoning is it will never be cleaner. Same with Newport. After going through the Army's environmental wringer, it will be squeaky clean.
  • Agreed
    I agree, it's fine. They do such good scrub downs and elimination of contaminents that it would be usable for anything right now. That's not the problem, the problem is the location. There is a reason it was in the middle of nowhere near a few power plants to destroy a chemical agent. Desolote. The only thing I could see it for is a Major Multi-modal facility. You've got the track infrastructure there, in the middle of massive amounts of grain, close enough to Chicago without being too far, near Danville and Champaign spurs, close to Terre Haute and close to Indianapolis and Springfield. That would be the best option.

    That or a massive mother ship of all ethanol plants - like a distribution pipeline center for ethanol. Those are the only two options.

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  1. The $104K to CRC would go toward debts service on $486M of existing debt they already have from other things outside this project. Keystone buys the bonds for 3.8M from CRC, and CRC in turn pays for the parking and site work, and some time later CRC buys them back (with interest) from the projected annual property tax revenue from the entire TIF district (est. $415K / yr. from just this property, plus more from all the other property in the TIF district), which in theory would be about a 10-year term, give-or-take. CRC is basically betting on the future, that property values will increase, driving up the tax revenue to the limit of the annual increase cap on commercial property (I think that's 3%). It should be noted that Keystone can't print money (unlike the Federal Treasury) so commercial property tax can only come from consumers, in this case the apartment renters and consumers of the goods and services offered by the ground floor retailers, and employees in the form of lower non-mandatory compensation items, such as bonuses, benefits, 401K match, etc.

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