County officials seek to sell old IP land

Published 12:10am Tuesday, June 25, 2013

NATCHEZ — Adams County isn’t looking to hang on to the former International Paper land — at least not all of it — for very long.

As the Aug. 12 closing date for the $9.5 million, 476-acre land transaction between the county and Rentech approaches, Adams County Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said local economic development officials are actively looking to sell the property.

“We are marketing it right now, as we speak,” Grennell said. “Natchez Inc. has been on top of it.”

Adams County board attorney Scott Slover said the possibility exists that the county will be able to sell the property as soon as it is deeded to the county, but that potential buyers would be vetted beyond just having cash available to purchase the land.

“The county is not in a position where they have to hurry to do this, so they are not going to just take it if someone shows up with $10 million if that is not necessarily what the county is looking for — they are looking for an opportunity to improve our economic development,” he said.

Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said discussions are ongoing with the competing bidder Adams County beat for the property when Rentech put it up for sale earlier this year. Rentech had purchased the land in 2008 with the hopes of building a coal-to-liquid fuel facility on it, but the company scrapped those plans in late 2011.

“We are continuing to have a vigorous and open dialogue with them and trying to seek solutions that are compatible to both the needs of the county and our economic development efforts as well as the needs of our client,” Russ said.

“There is a scenario being worked on that more than likely would have most of the property going toward that client and the county or the St. Catherine Creek Utility Authority keeping the wastewater facility and the appropriate easements that are necessary for our future development along those lines.”

When the county announced it had a binding contract to buy the property, Russ said at the time it was done in part to ensure the county would have access to the former IP industrial wastewater treatment facility as a tool for future economic development recruiting.

Assuming that the competing bidder does not ultimately buy the property from the county, Russ said a master plan would be drawn up in order to maximize the use of the land.

“We have got several active clients that are big investment clients — $100 million-plus investments — that are looking at parts of the property as well, so we are trying to balance some of that out,” Russ said.

But even as the land is appropriately parceled and sold, buyers will be given benchmarks they will have to meet or the land will revert to the county, Slover said.

“When you have a real big industry coming in, they cannot just snap their fingers and build overnight, but we will have some time elements (that will be included in land deals).”