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|Low appraisal stymies industrial park growth|
The West Ouachita Industrial Park's board will look into hiring a grant writer or consultant to help secure funds to develop 48 acres of land for economic development purposes.
The industrial district in 2006 bought 48 acres west of the industrial park, which the board now refers to as the Davis property.
The industrial park is located off Interstate 20 in western Ouachita Parish.
The industrial park's board wants to hire a grant writer or consultant to secure funding to pay for infrastructure improvements such as roads and utilities, and then sell portions of that property to interested businesses and industry.
Currently, Lazenby & Associates is conducting studies on the Davis property to determine what needs to be done to improve it and how much it will cost to develop it.
There is no timeframe for completion of that study, but Daryel Hendrix, chairman of the Industrial District board, said the board would not hire a grant writer or consultant until that study is completed.
Board members also plan to meet with Tom Shelton's family, which owns 58 acres located between the industrial park and the Davis property.
The board tried for years to buy the land, but an agreement was never reached. The board wants access to the Shelton property to connect the industrial park to the Davis property.
Hendrix said that could be accomplished if the Shelton family transferred the right-of-way to the board with the understanding that the road would also enhance the Shelton property.
The board may also consider buying a portion of the Shelton property near I-20 to use that land for road access.
The board says the Shelton heirs have been reluctant to sell their property because recent appraisals came in lower than what they thought the property was worth. However, the board says a good portion of the Shelton property has major drainage issues and the cost to correct those issues to develop the property would cost more than the price of the land.
Hendrix says the portion of the Shelton property near I-20 is better suited for development. The board would be willing to pay the Shelton heirs their asking price if they would agree to sell that area of the property.
Hendrix says the board must begin the process of developing the Davis property soon and also work to obtain road access through the Shelton property. That's because interested tenants frequently inquire on available land at the industrial park. Those prospects must look elsewhere for property because the industrial park does not have any property available at this time.
"We've got the opportunities to bring industry here, bring more jobs here, but we've got to expand the park and open up that Davis property," Hendrix said.
Hendrix believes the Shelton heirs would at least agree to transfer the right-of-way to the industrial district to open access between the industrial park and the Davis property.
"The expense for them to put a road in there would be astronomical, and I think they'd be foolish not to go along with this because they'd use the road, too, and it would just increase their property value," Hendrix said.