Rentech to buy 450 acres

Published 1:25 am Saturday, September 29, 2007

NATCHEZ — The coal-to-liquid company Rentech, Inc., said in a statement Friday they had notified Adams County of their intent to proceed with buying roughly 450 acres of the former International Paper mill site.

The company had until Friday to commit to buying the land once the county acquires it from IP.

The deadline to close on the property is Dec. 1.

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The county board of supervisors will address the topic at Monday’s regular meeting.

Rentech entered into a suboption agreement with the county in May. The agreement reserved the land for Rentech until Friday, allowing the company to do necessary environmental studies and inspect the equipment.

“They had until Sept. 27 to determine if there were any problems that would keep them from moving forward with the project,” County Board Attorney Bob Latham said. “By serving us this notice, they have committed. They have said everything looks good with the property, and they’re ready to move forward.”

The county paid IP a down payment of roughly $250,000 on the property, Latham said. Part of the agreement with Rentech was that the company would reimburse the county that money.

The commitment to the site means if Rentech wanted to back out of buying the IP site, they would forfeit their down payment, Latham said.

The county plans to buy the IP site and sell approximately 450 acres to Rentech. The two deals will happen simultaneously, Latham said.

The county will retain roughly 400 acres of the property.

A large portion of that land is taken up by water and sewage treatment facilities, which a county-affiliated utility company will operate.

The Natchez-Adams County Economic Development Agency, the county and the state have worked together to try to bring Rentech to Adams County.

County Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said he was glad to see the project take another step toward reality.

“We started on it two, two-and-a-half years ago,” Grennell said. “It’s not an overnighter.”

The formal commitment was a big step toward the project’s future, EDA Chairman Woody Allen said.

“If things keep going in this direction and they come forward with this project, it’s going to create a tremendous amount of activity for all southwest Mississippi,” Allen said.

The commitment marked what was almost the end result of a long process, Allen said.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Allen said. “We’ve been working to try to do something with the IP property for almost four years now. To see it getting closer and closer to a closing date, it’s exciting.”