The Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority (FCRA) is less than one month away from erasing a budget deficit of more than $250,000, FCRA Executive Director Ivy Owen announced on Thursday (Oct. 18) at the trust’s monthly meeting.
The uptick was brought about by a September closing with buyers David and Douglas Harp, who purchased 26.1 acres for the sum of $541,862. The Harps plan to open a trans-load facility on the site.
The FCRA also closed on a $1.162 million sale with Custer Colley Properties for 46.5 acres at the southeast corner of Chad Colley and Custer Boulevards on Oct. 10, which was not reported in Thursday’s numbers.
Together, the transactions will move FCRA into the black by its Nov. 15 meeting.
Despite the positive trend, property sales are still under budget through the first nine months of 2012. Through September, the FCRA had projected $3 million from the line item, but actual sales were only $1.201 million.
The year’s budget goal was $4 million, which Owen believes can still be accomplished.
The trust will derive help from the sale of 10 acres in Barling at $90,000. Steve Beam Construction will purchase the land to build a housing subdivision “in the $180,000 range,” Beam said. The FCRA set closing for Dec. 4, 2012.
In addition to the Beam sale, the FCRA approved the sale of 40 acres along Highway 59 to Dr. Marion Smith, who will use the land as a “large scale commercial project to join with the surrounding developments,” according to Smith’s proposal. Smith is working with “two mall developers” on the transaction, which would close on May 1, 2013.
Also Thursday, Owen addressed the status of the Mitsubishi plant at Chaffee Crossing, which was “mothballed” in April 2012 after Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) said the demand for wind turbines in North America had stagnated, with new contracts difficult to obtain. The company is also in an ongoing legal battle with General Electric (GE) related to patent claims on wind-turbine equipment.
In April, MHI spokeswoman Sonia Williams told The City Wire that “wind turbine developers in the US are hesitant to purchase Mitsubishi wind turbines and banks are loathe to provide funding for projects that use Mitsubishi wind turbines.”
Owen remains optimistic. “They’re still in the lawsuit with GE, and they have not indicated to us, one way or the other, whether they’re going to settle that lawsuit or take it to the Nth Degree. What we do know is they spent $50 (million) or $60 million building that building, and it’s got their logo on it. And Mitsubishi is not going to spend that kind of money without doing something with that building.”
Owen continued: “We feel quite good that something’s going to happen in that building — maybe it’s Mitsubishi making some other product other than wind turbine components — but I feel quite good that something is going to happen there.”
With the April decision of Mitsubishi officials to “write-down…wind-turbine inventory and related measures,” the company posted a $240 million loss (20 billion yen) for fiscal year 2011. The plant would have employed 400 people at full production.