As reported by Journal Gazette & Times-Courier

MATTOON — The shuttered LSC Communications Printing Co. plant in Mattoon has been purchased by a national commercial real estate firm that specializes in revitalizing former manufacturing facilities.

Affiliates of Phoenix Investors, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Tuesday announced the year-end acquisitions of the former LSC plant along north U.S. Route 45 and three other industrial properties elsewhere in the United States. The new owner reported that the Mattoon property comprises approximately 1.1 million square feet of improvements on 84 acres.

Phoenix reported that the infrastructure of the Mattoon property is “robust” with clear heights up to 80 feet, 41 loading docks, 11 drive-in doors, ample parking and restrooms, and two interior rail spurs with interior loading, supported by Canadian National. Phoenix intends to make a variety of “strategic capital improvements” to the property, which it expects will attract a “wide base of new users.”

“We were pleased to work with LSC as it winds down and sells certain shuttered former print manufacturing plants across the United States,” said Phoenix Investors founder and Chairman Frank Crivello in a news release.

Phoenix reported on Wednesday that renovation work at the former LSC plant will commence in the next couple months, but the space there will be available to new users immediately. The company reported that this property will be able to support numerous uses, including warehousing, distribution, manufacturing, and office work.

Angela Griffin, president of the Coles Together economic development organization, said they are delighted to welcome Phoenix Investors as a new corporate citizen in Mattoon and Coles County.

“Phoenix has a proven record of facilitating job creation and significant corporate investment in communities where it owns and manages properties,” Griffin said. “We are especially pleased Phoenix recognizes the advantages Coles County can offer its clients as they contemplate growth, particularly in these unusual times. We look forward to working with Phoenix and its affiliate companies.”

Mattoon City Administrator Kyle Gill said the repurposing of the former LSC property will not create as much employment as this factory had offered but it will bring jobs to the community and ensure that the site does not sit vacant.

“They are not going to want to see it sit idle,” Gill said of the former factory’s new owner. “It makes us feel better that (the new owner) is a company that has done this before and that the building is being utilized.”

Chicago-based LSC announced in mid-January 2020 that it planned to close the Mattoon facility as part of efforts to streamline its commercial printing operations for magazines and catalogs. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity reported that the total number of workers affected by the subsequent closure was 796.

The Mattoon plant, which previously operated under the R.R. Donnelley name, had celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018. The Coles Together economic development organization reported that LSC had been the largest industrial employer in Coles County and that as an overall employer it had only trailed Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, Eastern Illinois University and Lake Land College.

The Business Wire and other news outlets reported in September that the LSC Communications company has been acquired by private investment and equity firm Atlas Holdings of Greenwich, Connecticut.

Phoenix reported that its core business is the revitalization of former manufacturing facilities throughout the United States, a strategy that leads to “positively transforming communities and restarting the economic engine in the communities we serve.”

It is one of three properties in the state acquired by Phoenix Investors. The other sites in Illinois are in Galesburg.

The company’s year-end acquisitions also consisted of properties in Rockford; Glendale, Wisconsin; and Longview, Texas. In total, Phoenix reported that it acquired 9.5 million square feet of industrial real estate across nine states in 2020. This increased its portfolio to more than 37 million square feet across 22 states.

Among those holding is the former Borg-Warner/Zexel Valeo Air Compressor Inc. property on South Side Drive in Decatur which the company purchased in 2019 and has since made extensive improvements to that property.

“Our ability to achieve the acquisition of almost 10 million square feet of industrial real estate in a year like 2020 speaks volumes about the talent of our incredible team and the commitment and reliability of our financial partners and their conviction in our investment strategy,” said Phoenix President and CEO David Marks in a press release.