KAISER-MEAD SITE SOLD FOR REDEVELOPMENT; Buyers: Location Good for Industrial Park

Article excerpt

A California company that acquires and converts abandoned industrial sites has paid $1.5 million for the sprawling former Kaiser-Mead smelter operation in north Spokane.

New Mill Capital LLC plans to convert some of the remaining buildings on the 183-acre site into usable industrial locations for new tenants, said Gregory Schain, executive vice president of New Mill. Other former Kaiser buildings, including the massive buildings holding aluminum potlines, will be gutted and torn down, Schain said.

New Mill is a subsidiary of Industrial Realty Group LLC. The IRG website lists a portfolio of more than 50 million square feet within 70 projects across the United States.

Kaiser shuttered the plant in 2000 after producing aluminum there for more than 50 years, at times employing as many as 1,200 workers.

In 2004, St. Louis-based Commercial Development Co. Inc. bought the land for $7.4 million and sold off all the plant's industrial metals and most of its smaller pieces of equipment. CDC has tried to sell the property for the past seven years.

"In that time I've had at least 10 serious offers from would-be buyers, and this one finally closed," said NAI Black commercial broker Earl Engle, who represented CDC.

The plan is to turn the site into an industrial park, Schain added. "It has a north-south freeway nearby. It has power and water ... it has the infrastructure already there to make this a world- class location," Schain said.

The property also has an assortment of industrial hoists and cranes that remain. Those will also be sold off, said Tom Messmer, vice president of special projects for New Mill.

The sale does not affect Kaiser's other operation, the Trentwood rolling mill that continues to produce aluminum sheet and plate for use in airplanes, auto parts and construction equipment.

Schain said a first step will be to convert roughly a half dozen smaller buildings and try to lease them to industrial or commercial customers. Those buildings have water and electricity and other services, he said.

All told, the Kaiser property has 262 buildings - from a massive potline building with more than 540,000 square feet of space and two support structures, each with 190,000 square feet, to smaller buildings in the range of 10,000 square feet. …