published Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Cleveland, Tenn., Whirlpool site to get legislation on future

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Mike Pare Whirlpool Corp. in Cleveland, Tenn., is planning a new $120 million facility.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — New legislation is intended to help Cleveland and Whirlpool officials plan the redevelopment of the corporation’s historic downtown location.

“This is a straightforward economic development bill that will help reinvigorate downtown Cleveland,” State Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, said Wednesday in a prepared statement.

The legislation allows the creation of an industrial redevelopment corporation to deal with the redevelopment of brownfields, former industrial sites that may have pollution on them but can be reclaimed for use.

“By creating these redevelopment zones, we’re allowing economic studies to be conducted and plans [to be] created for how to best utilize these brownfield areas,” Brooks said.

The redevelopment district would use what is called tax-increment financing as a funding source. Such financing allows future nonschool tax revenue in the targeted district, either from sales or property tax increases, to be used for the redevelopment. In turn, the redevelopment is expected to create growth in sales or property values to create the funds.

The bill is waiting for Gov. Bill Haslam’s signature.

In an interview, Brooks noted that Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland already has created a Southside Redevelopment Task Force to explore what happens to the 90 acres in the Ninth Street area of downtown Cleveland that Whirlpool and past companies have occupied for a century.

“This gives the redevelopment committee a track to run on,” Brooks said.

He said local residents have been asking what will happen to the current site once Whirlpool moves into its state-of-the-art facilities on Benton Pike.

Rowland said the task force’s charge is to look for mixed uses for the current Whirlpool location. The group has had one meeting.

Doug Berry, vice president for economic development with the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, said Wednesday that a piece of Whirlpool’s massive project is for the community to help plan how the current site will be used.

“This is another tool we can use in that effort at no added expense to taxpayers,” Berry said.

No decisions have been made on what will be developed on the site, Berry said, and the community is looking at all its options.

The bill originated with House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, who wanted to help redevelopment in Hamilton County.

Brooks said that, when he read McCormick’s bill and learned it had been amended to include Memphis, he asked McCormick if Cleveland could be added, too. McCormick agreed.

Contact Randall Higgins at rhiggins@timesfreepress.com or 423-314-1029.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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