The Houston Board of Aldermen has met several times over the past week to hammer out a deal to purchase the Jackson Manufacturing building for approximately $290,000 from Ron Jackson.
“We were approached by Mr. Jackson wanting to make a deal so he could get tax credits before the end of they year,” said Houston Mayor Stacey Parker. “We have tentatively entered negotiations but the city has to have some things happen on their end before this is finalized.”
The newer portion of the 200,000-square-foot building is being leased by International Paper as a warehouse with approximately 8 to 10 jobs linked to the building. Jackson told the city they were considering tearing the building down to avoid paying taxes in 2013 and International Paper told the city might be forced to move jobs at the facility out of town.
Key points the city is looking to nail down is an environmental study to see if the property is contaminated, an 3-year lease with International Paper and low-interest financing from Three River Planning and Development to pay for the deal.
“I think it is a good project if you can keep International Paper in the building,” said Josh West, Three Rivers’ economic developer for Pontotoc, Union and Chickasaw counties. “The lease with International Paper can help service the note, it would save jobs and it would give us a tool to market to industry.”
West said Three Rivers has tentatively agreed to finance the deal. West also pointed out if the city owns the building it would be eligible for grants to improve it.
The city has been told International Paper is renting the building for $10,000 a month.
West urged the city to also include a 60-day “window of due diligence” and to make sure all parties understand a negative environmental impact statement could kill the deal.
Place 3 Alderman Shenia Jones said she works at International Paper but she had concerns with the $30,000 the city currently gets in taxes from the warehouse coming off the tax roll.
Alderman-At-Large Barry Springer said he had mixed feelings about the deal.
“International Paper has been around here a long time and if they stay around here a long time, this will be good for the city,” said Springer. “I think we need to negotiate until everybody feels comfortable with this agreement.”
Parker initially approached the city saying Jackson wanted $300,000 for the site and that price was dropped to $290,000 on Monday. The city is seeking insurance on the building and will also be responsible for mowing and maintenance once the purchase is finalized.
Pending the approval of aldermen the deal would also need to be voted on by the Chickasaw Development Foundation Board of Directors.