Cooper Tools deal advances Sutton Park plan

Mar. 22, 2014 @ 03:37 PM

The Sutton Park Redevelopment Plan took a big step forward this week when Monroe acquired the former Cooper Tools site. 

Chris Platé, executive director of economic development and aviation, requested $300,000 in a staff report Tuesday, which was approved in the consent agenda. 

The $300,000 is to reimburse Apex Tool U.S. Real Estate Holding for the total demolition and removal of the Cooper Tools facility, including the building and the parking lot. The current owner will also absorb all costs involved to register the property with the Brownfields Program, a program through the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources that allows prospective developers to negotiate an agreement that defines the activities needed to make the site suitable for reuse, as opposed to cleaning up the site to regulatory standards. 

Platé explained in an interview that it insulates the city and future owners from any environmental liabilities on the site. It currently has a few environmental issues, things that are typical of an old industrial site. He said they are not big issues, but something that needs to be addressed. 

The site is about 75 acres, which the city will accept as a tax-deductible donation worth about $3.2 million, according to a staff report. 

The site is a catalyst site under the Sutton Park redevelopment plan, completed in late 2013. The plan has the potential to achieve an 1.3 million square-feet build out of manufacturing space, attract $75 million of capital investment and create about 2,000 jobs. 

"(It) gives us a location in the middle of the traditional industrialized area of Monroe," Platé said. "It has heavy infrastructure already ... that allows it to be developed really quickly." 

Platé said it gives them a point to start the revitalization of that area with basically a new industrial park. 

He said it will create more job opportunities, and people will not have to drive as far to get to those jobs. He said it will also improve the tax base and lead to more improvements in the area, particularly to the roads. 

"It's one of those things, it's a game-changer, really, for that area," Platé said. He said the whole redevelopment plan is exciting and has been in the works for a while. 

Platé said there has been a lot of behind-the-scenes work that no one has seen and it people are starting to see it as they come to fruition. 

He said they will start to see more movement in that direction and they are looking into possible grants for road improvements in the area. 

There are a couple of other catalyst sites on the horizon, Platé said, but this one is immediate and on that will have the most impact on the future. 

He said they should have control of the site in six to 12 months.