Tne News-Enterprise, Feb 11, 2022
After about 20 years of hedging its bets on a largely undeveloped property, Radcliff might see a development site pay off within the next year.
Millpond Business Center off Joe Prather Highway in Radcliff has seen some renewed interest since recent large economic development projects were announced on either side of it, Radcliff Mayor J.J. Duvall said.
“Since the announcement of BlueOval SK in Glendale, we’ve had numerous calls from places looking to locate here,” he said.
Once farmland, Millpond has two developments, the Deom Building, which now is owned by Baptist Health Hardin, and Ruffle Girl, which was originally occupied by U.S. Calvary.
“Ever since then, it basically has laid dormant garnering some looks,” Duvall said. “People have inquired about it, but nothing solid has landed.”
The interest hasn’t amounted to anything more than queries from real estate agents, developers and a handful of companies, Duvall said.
The city acquired the property in September 2014 when the city council voted to dissolve the North Hardin Economic Development Authority at the recommendation of Duvall and authority chairman Mike Weaver.
Prior to that, the authority’s board paid down on its remaining debt to the tune of about $200,000.
When the city dissolved the board, it took control of its coffers and paid the remaining debt, which amounted to about $66,000, Duvall said.
“We’ve actually had the property in our hands to try and recruit and manage since mid-2015 to now,” he said. “Over the past few years, we’ve had several people inquire.
“The most prospective one we were hoping to land … they announced they would be coming here and then something happened in the company that changed their direction,” he added.
That company was Cumberland Products in Hodgenville. The company had capital to expand its footprint into Hardin County, Duvall said.
“What happened was a business opportunity they couldn’t turn down,” he said. “They used the capital as an investment opportunity to grow their company.”
Duvall said the company still has expansion plans to include Radcliff and Millpond, but no definitive timeline.
“They plan on still doing this but they couldn’t give me a timeline,” he said, adding that the company didn’t purchase any property. “We’ve had discussions over the past couple of years with them, so hopefully, they’ll come back to the table.”
Once a company does decide to locate in the industrial park, Duvall said it will find a build-ready site with utilities and the land is grated.
“Working with the state and with Rick Games (president of the Elizabethtown-Hardin County Industrial Foundation) in Elizabethtown, whose been very helpful and very supportive about us looking at something here, we’ve been able to reach out and make contact with several companies,” he said. “It’s just a waiting game to see what direction they go.”
But since the announcement of BlueOval SK and Nucor in Brandenburg, Duvall said interest in the site has piqued, Duvall said.
“Representatives from companies have been on-site,” he said.
A couple of companies have expressed interest in property to the front of the industrial park and the city is waiting on design work from them, Duvall said.
“Those are going to be more business-style operations, not the large factories,” he said, adding the sections near the front of the business center are smaller in acreage.
Although an engineering firm has plotted potential layouts for the 140-acre business center, with about 120 buildable acres, the site design is build-to-suit, Duvall said.
“Nothing up there is plated yet,” he said. “This way we can cater to a company’s needs and then plat it. If they’re already platted, we would have to redesign everything.”
Apart from the customizable lots at the site, Duvall said supporting infrastructure for Millpond is an added draw for potential companies.
The business center sits off Joe Prather Highway, a four-lane road that connects to Interstate 65 south of Elizabethtown in one direction and Interstate 64 in the other, and Patriot Parkway that leads to connections to I-65 and Western Kentucky Parkway, both south of Elizabethtown.
“The opening of Patriot Parkway has really changed the dynamics of the location,” he said. “Being centrally located between Nucor and the BlueOval site, through some hard work and trying to recruit someone there, hopefully Radcliff will see industry build there where good quality, good paying jobs can locate there. That was the initial vision of that site to see something like that happen.”
Duvall said the one thing the industrial site is lacking is a rail connector.
“When larger industries look, they are looking for a potential rail spur that could be placed so things can be brought in,” he said. “We were faced with challenges in the past. Now that we’ve had some expansion of the road … it helped open up the road network.
“In a perfect scenario, a rail head would have been somewhat close,” he added. “That would have helped.”
Although the industrial park has been the subject of criticism for sitting largely dormant over about 20 years, Duvall said people only have to look to the Glendale megasite, which did the same before the BlueOval SK announcement.
“One of the things we have to compete against is 400 cities and 120 counties in the state of Kentucky,” he said. “All companies have different reasons for locating in certain areas.”
With a major player such as Ford at the Glendale megasite, Duvall said Radcliff just became more attractive to companies that want to locate in Hardin County to support the auto manufacturer.
He is hoping to see movement on the property by summer for some of the smaller companies and potentially by next year for some of the potential larger ones, although none have committed yet.
“We’re at the mercy of the people looking,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll see something there. It’s been a long time and our community deserves to see some new growth and opportunity at Millpond.”