As reported in the Herald Palladium:
BENTON HARBOR — A Wisconsin investment group bought two dormant plants from Whirlpool Corp.
The Milwaukee-based firm, known as Phoenix Investors LLC, closed on the two-property deal last week. It includes plants in Fort Smith, Ark., and Cleveland, Tenn.
Terms of the deal were not released.
“We outgrew our former manufacturing site in Cleveland a few years back and built a state-of-the-art facility just a few miles away,” Jeff Noel, vice president of communications and public affairs, said in a news release. “Today, we are pleased to complete the sale of part of our former site to Phoenix Investors who will work directly with the Cleveland community to find the best new opportunity for this site.”
In its time as a factory, Whirlpool’s Plant 3 in Tennessee once housed a stand-alone operation, which included assembly, fabrication and finishing. The plant was closed shortly after the former Maytag Corp. was bought by Whirlpool in March 2006.
“After the success of our acquisition of Whirlpool’s former facility in Milan, Tenn., now leased to Delta Faucets, we are pleased to acquire another former Whirlpool complex in Tennessee ripe for an adaptive reuse,” David Marks, managing director of Phoenix Investors, said in the release.
Phoenix Investors has made a habit in the past of rehabbing old factories for new manufacturing endeavors.
During the past three years, Phoenix Investors has acquired six former Whirlpool plants as part of its core business of revitalizing former plants throughout the U.S. In the release, Marks said the strategy helps restart “the economic engine in the communities” in which Phoenix operates.
Phoenix Investors’ portfolio totals about 17 million square feet across 22 states.
The Benton Harbor-based appliance maker also announced the sale of its remaining building and surrounding land in Fort Smith, Ark.
It will be the first Arkansas project for Phoenix Investors and will include a complete renovation of the former Whirlpool complex for use by warehousing, industrial or manufacturing companies.
Frank Crivello, executive vice president of Phoenix Investors, said they will try to bring companies and jobs back into the former Whirlpool complex. Crivello added they already have a list of prospects.
Our core focus and competency lies in restoring legacy industrial properties back to their original greatness,
Crivello said in the release. “We look forward to working with local, regional and state partners to fulfill our vision for the former Whirlpool complex and surrounding acreage that takes full advantage of the dynamic opportunities that exist in Fort Smith.”
In June 2012, Whirlpool shut down its Fort Smith plant, resulting in the loss of about 800 jobs. The plant produced trash compactors, ice makers and three types of side-by-side refrigerators.
At its peak, the plant employed 4,600 workers.
“Phoenix Investors is a company that understands the opportunities that exist in the Fort Smith, Ark., marketplace,” Noel said in the release. “Officials with Phoenix Investors are looking forward to working directly with Tim Allen and his team of local economic development professionals along with members of the Arkansas Economic Development Corp., and leaders of the city of Fort Smith.”