Port District takes new look at riverfront development
by Terra Temple
Apr 10, 2014 | 910 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There’s a saying about when one door closes another opens.

The Massac-Metropolis Port District (MMPD) is putting its own twist on that adage by creating its own opportunity, specifically along the Metropolis riverfront.

Those plans were discussed Monday afternoon during a special meeting that included a 20-member audience consisting of representatives from existing and potential businesses, along with agency representatives and government officials.

For MMPD the closed door of opportunity was the realization that its pursuit of the Ingram property was not going to happen.

The board first publicly announced its interest in purchasing the property located at 100 Scott St. on the Metropolis riverfront in September 2012. Over the next 16 months, the board entered two intergovernmental agreements with the City of Metropolis regarding the property, continued negotiating with Ingram officials in Nashville and talked with potential occupants of the property. On Jan. 21, the board accepted a proposal from Ingram for the property. At a special Jan. 27 meeting, they approved the final terms of that agreement.

“For several months the Port District has tried to work with Ingram to acquire their barge site at Metropolis. It’s been a moving target,” explained MMPD chairman Richard Kruger. “The last proposal Ingram gave, they wanted as a condition of the sale to have a 20-year lease, which the City of Metropolis was unwilling to do. That was a deal killer. I thought we had agreed on a price, and apparently we hadn’t — the one they wanted was unrealistic.”

So the board began looking at other options.

“We’re trying to go to Plan B and see what could happen in developing the riverfront from scratch, rather than with the Ingram property,” Kruger said. “The beauty is almost all of this is owned by the City of Metropolis. They had foresight to buy property along the river.”

Plan B involves the development of an intermodal port in Metropolis by using 2500 feet of wharfage rights MMPD obtained from the City of Metropolis in November 2013 plus 22 1/2 acres of industrial area beginning on the eastern edge of the Ingram property going west to the edge of what is leased to Harrah’s Metropolis and with a possible northern boundry of Third Street.

“We’ve had some commitments from people who are definately interested in locating here,” Kruger said. “The purpose of today’s meeting was to try to get ideas to put together a design and accommodate as many businesses as want to be involved. We’re not out to hurt existing businesses at all, but I think we can complement and help. We’re very open to suggestions.”

Attendees heard presentations from R.J. Corman Railroad Group, which the MMPD has selected as its shortline railroad operator, and Hunter Sand & Gravel, a commercial dredging company that serves Kotter’s Ready Mix and is a sister company to Hunter Marine Transport.

One of R.J. Corman’s primary responsibilities will be rebuilding the 1.7 miles of rail from the railroad bridge to possibly the Kotter Ready Mix property. It will also oversee the shortline and switching railroad. Representative Bob Helton said the railbed is in good shape and construction should be an easy process.

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