Chattanooga's biggest industrial park built in the past two decades will soon open for business in Hixson on the site of what was once the city's biggest manufacturing employer.
The developers of the new North River Commerce Center being built on the site of the former DuPont nylon plant are now building out the interior space for a new distribution facility. Home Depot plans to lease nearly a third of the first of four industrial and distribution warehouses and offices planned on the 88-acre park.
A second, similarly-sized facility should open nearby in 2024, and two other buildings are planned in the future on the property originally developed after World War II.
"We're getting a lot of interest from company leaders, not only in this country but internationally, who are interested in expanding their operations in this area," Matt Phillips, a partner for the development firm Rise Partners, said in a telephone interview Monday. "Having this Class A industrial space available in Chattanooga is giving us the option to meet the needs and demands of those companies that are looking to expand, relocate or come to Chattanooga with a whole new project."
North River Commerce Center takes shape as Chattanooga’s biggest new industrial park in decades
Rise Partners is redeveloping much of the former DuPont site on North Access Road with plans to eventually build up to 1 million square feet of warehouse and industrial space at a projected cost of nearly $102.9 million. The new structures are next to the Kordsa and Invista plants that took over part of the former DuPont complex, which was once Chattanooga's biggest manufacturing employer with more than 5,000 workers.
DuPont, which made nylons for carpets, clothing, tires and industrial uses, ultimately shut down its Hixson plant in 2015 after nearly 60 years of production and sold some of the plant to Invista and later Kordsa, which both continue to operate much smaller facilities.
RP Access LLC, an affiliate of the Chattanooga-based development firm Rising Partners, bought 88 acres of parking lots and other land now owned by Invista last year and began developing the North River Commerce Center to provide production, distribution and office space for industrial and commercial users.
Phillips said the developers are close to another major lease and he expects others to also be announced soon.
The new industrial park is the biggest privately owned industrial park built in Chattanooga in modern times. Most of the city's biggest industrial parks erected in the past half century are city- and/or county-owned facilities, such as the Enterprise South Industrial Park in Ooltewah, the Centre South Riverport on the Tennessee River and the newly acquired former McDonald farm in Sale Creek.
To aid in the development of North River Commerce Center by Rise Partners, a special tax zone was created by the city and county for the development last year. Under the plan adopted by the local governments, Rise Partners is eligible to receive up to $9.9 million in additional property taxes spurred by their projects to help pay for public infrastructure and financing costs for North River Commerce Center, including installation of new sewer, water and road improvements in and around the new development.
Phillips said the developers have already spent more than what the tax zone is designed to provide on public infrastructure improvements. To help Rise Partners reclaim the promised funding through a bond sale to be repaid from the new and higher tax revenues the upgrades spur, the Chattanooga City Council will be asked Tuesday night to amend the original economic impact plan and revise the language of the plan to allow for the bonds to be issued and for Rise Partners to recover the infrastructure investments earlier with a bond issue.