After remaining vacant for more than 30 years, a Denison industrial site may soon see restoration and new life. The Denison City Council and Denison Development Alliance will hold a joint meeting Monday to consider a purchase agreement for the former 480-acre Johns Manville plant, along U.S. Highway 75.
The cleanup and redevelopment of the Johns Manville brownfield has been a focus of the DDA for decades, but progress in purchasing the former industrial site has been slow if not dormant, for much of that time.
"We’ve had people knocking on the door about that property for years, but we couldn’t do anything about it because we didn’t control," Denison Development Alliance President Tony Kaai.
During the meeting, Kaai said the city and DDA will discuss a real estate agreement regarding the purchase of the 480 acre site for $68,000. This will be the first step in acquiring the property, which will include a due diligence period.
The site previously was used for transite pipe production. The pipes, which served a variety of industrial uses, were made from a combination of concrete and asbestos fibers. Since the 1970s, asbestos has been replaced as a construction material due to its carcinogenic properties.
"We have been engaged with JM Eagle, the owner, for the past several years, working together on the difficult task of how to reclaim and redevelop this site for the benefit of our City and her citizens," Denison Mayor Janet Gott said Friday in a press release issued by the DDA. "This property is the gateway to Texas and to the City of Denison, and will, again, become a point of pride.
"Throughout the negotiations, the end goal, of both parties, was to create a new investment opportunity for our community and future jobs for the region. We are grateful to JM Eagle for their commitment to bring us to a mutually favorable outcome."
Despite the low cost to purchase the property, Kaai said the site will need extensive remediation work to remove the asbestos on site, which is used it the concrete walls of the main building.
Kaai said current estimates to abate and remove the asbestos from the site are about $2 million. After removing the asbestos, the DDA will continue to sample the soil to ensure the site is safe.
Another 200 acres of the property sites in the flood plain, and currently has asbestos pipe buried underneath. As such, this property will not be developed and will remain dormant.
The remaining 273 acres of usable land will likely be developed into an industrial park, Kaai said.
"Our plans are to develop it as a light industrial park. I think we are going to look at it as a warehouse, logistics and distribution site," Kaai said, noting there has been tentative interest in the site for years.
Kaai said the funds used for remediation will come from the DDA’s budget, which is able to support this cost, Kaai said..
Residents who have thoughts or concerns about the purchase and remediation are asked to speak during the meeting, which will be held at 5:30 p.m. at Denison City Hall.
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at email@example.com.