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Platé eyes Sutton Park for redevelopment

13 February 2014

By Carolyn Steeves, The Enquirer Journal 

The redevelopment of Sutton Park could be "potentially revolutionary for Monroe," Chris Platé told the Monroe City Council at their meeting last week. 

Platé, executive director of economic development and aviation with Monroe Union County Economic Development, presented a plan to the council about the existing land.

The proposed study area is along Highway 200 and Highway 74 with the CSX Rail line running through part of it. 

He said their goal was to catalog and analyze close about 30 parcels on the property. 

The team worked to identify catalyst sites that have the best opportunities for redevelopment and to estimate the impact of the redevelopment sites. They also worked to create suggested gateways and places for identification and "branding."

A few parcels were not suitable for redevelopment for various reasons, from environment to residential density. A few of the identified gateways included two entrances on Walkup Avenue and some along East Roosevelt Boulevard. 

One of the areas identified by a consultant and staff for redevelopment is the "Cooper Tools site" along Walkup Avenue. The area is about 383 acres with a build-out of 1.88 million square feet. 

The consultant said it could create a $120 to $160 million tax base, about 5,500 jobs and an annual salary of about $135 million. 

Staff analysis put the build out around 1.3 million square feet. The staff also estimated a $75 million tax base, around 2,000 jobs and an annual salary of about $50 million. 

Platé explained in an e-mail that there is a different between the estimates because staff applied their "economic development filter" of what their experience shows actually happens in the real-world development of an industrial area. The density of the number of buildings will be lower than the study is suggesting.

Platé wrote in an e-mail they believe that their analysis is more in line with what the city has experienced and is more conservative. Platé noted that is not saying the consultant is wrong, but rather the consultant's analysis is the maximum potential development.

Another 54 acres site was identified for redevelopment. It is bordered by Morgan Mill Road and Walkup Avenue along Andrew Jackson Highway. 

The consultant analysis predicted a 1.065 million square foot build-out. They said the redevelopment could create between a $69 and $90 million tax base, around 3,089 jobs and an annual salary of about $77 million. 

The analysis predicted a 565,000 square foot build-out, creating a $31 million tax base, about 1,000 jobs and an annual salary of about $25 million. 

A third, 44-acre site was identified along Walkup Avenue and N. Secrest Avenue. The consultant predicted a build-out of about 860,000 square feet, creating a $56 million to $73 million tax base, around 2,500 jobs and an annual salary of about $62 million. 

Staff looked at Phase 1, which is about 20 acres, which forecasted a build-out of about 400,000 square feet. Staff also predicted the creation of a $22 million tax base, about 300 jobs and an annual salary of about $7.5 million. 

In his conclusion, Platé recommended they pursue the first site, 1a/1b, look at roadway improvements around the catalyst sites and other assets, seek proper zoning and look at signs for the gateway. 

The presentation was for information only. Next it will go to the economic development committee for recommendations. Monroe Council showed interest, Platé wrote in an e-mail. Especially about the branding and signage. 

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