As reported by the Times Record:
By Thomas Saccente / Times Record / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Milwaukee-based firm Phoenix Investors LLC held a groundbreaking ceremony at 6400 Jenny Lind Road in Fort Smith Thursday to celebrate the company’s purchase of the former Whirlpool manufacturing facility at that location. The building was formerly used to manufacture refrigerators and freezers.
A joint news release from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce states Phoenix Investors will invest more than $10 million in the facility, making it immediately marketable to companies seeking a new location.
During the ceremony, David Marks, the president and chief executive officer of Phoenix Investors, said Phoenix Investors has had a successful history of acquiring, rehabilitating and finding new tenants for three previous Whirlpool plants over the last several years.
“So when Phoenix went to Whirlpool asking what else they may have available, we jumped at the opportunity to acquire this property in Fort Smith, a facility that, given our experience, looked good on paper and looked fantastic after physically touring the structure and getting to understand this diamond in the rough, a facility that has great clear height, quality rail access, ample loading docks, and wide column spacing, a facility ripe for repositioning and redevelopment, and most of all, a facility located in a strong and improving industrial market,” Marks said.
However, Marks said a great plan on paper without proper follow-through is a recipe for disaster. The purpose of the groundbreaking ceremony was to begin executing the former Whirlpool facility’s rehabilitation.
“But this action isn’t as simple as tossing a few shovels filled with dirt,” Marks said. “This development won’t be a success solely based on the idea that Phoenix … can refurbish the infrastructure. It would succeed because of the partnerships formed with our equity partners, our advocates in local and state government, and because the community supports this initiative.”
Tim Allen, the president and chief executive officer of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce, said Thursday has been a long time coming for Fort Smith and the community. He said the former Whirlpool facility is 1.5 million square feet, and although the pool of projects in need of a structure that size is very small, it is envisioned that dozens of companies, or tenants can be located in the facility in the very near future, with hundreds of jobs being created in the process.
We are honored to have Phoenix Investors join this community, Allen said.
Phoenix Investors will work closely with the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to market the facility to prospective companies, the news release states.