The lights are coming on and a building is going up in as little as a week at the site of the former Continental-General Tire plant on U.S. 45, north of Mayfield.
Brad Youngblood, owner of Grace Commercial Park, has been working this summer on the next phase of development for the 230-acre site he purchased in 2014.
"We have demolished over 14 acres of concrete slabs and footings within 30 days and recycled the material, constructed the road bases, graded the lots for the buildings and installed the foundations."
The steel is already on site to begin framing the 30,000-square-foot speculative building on which Graves County Economic Development has an option.
"What I would like to see in there is something that creates a good, longer term job base," Youngblood said.
Construction on it could begin within the next week, he said, certainly within the next two weeks, depending on the weather and the availability of a concrete crew.
"The first lights are going up next week," Youngblood said. "For the first time in 10 years, just to have a light sitting on that part of the property again is exciting for me."
GCED, with help from the Tennessee Valley Authority, is marketing the commercial park. It has 15 lots available for development, more if some of the bigger lots are broken into smaller ones.
"One of the things we really like about the marketability of the site is we feel it's appropriate for companies who are looking for 10,000 or 15,000 square feet up to larger companies that may need 500,000 square feet," GCED President Ryan Drane said.
First Choice Kubota has already announced its move to the commercial park by December. Footers for that building are going in, Youngblood said. C&C Ag Solutions, an agronomy (farm science) and farm supply store, will begin construction soon. Most recently, Youngblood said, a company has bought a seven-acre lot but not publicly announced the purchase.
"There will be at least three lots that will cater to retail, whether it be car lots or restaurants or a strip mall," Youngblood said, pointing to lots fronting U.S. 45 and the main road in the park. Other lots would be geared to manufacturing or other industrial uses, he said, perhaps related to the hemp industry since industrial hemp processor GenCanna is building its new plant directly across U.S. 45 from the park.
"That would be a good fit there," Youngblood said.
The General Tire plant opened in 1960. Continental acquired the company in 1987. At one time it employed roughly 2,200 hourly employees and 400 salaried employees, according to previous news reports.
"This property has looked like trash for so long, but that's not trash," Youngblood said of the leftover materials from where KenTex carried out demolition work. "It's very reusable material, and we will be able to use hundreds of thousands of tons of it out there."
Grace Commercial Park is not only cleaning up the property but is committed to doing so in an environmentally friendly manner, he said.
"We're recycling everything we can, including the concrete, which has allowed us to get that far into the project without bringing in any off-site materials," he said.
Grace Commercial Park has ground up the old rock and concrete to create the gravel base for roads and building pads. So far, 35,000 tons of it has been used, Youngblood said.
When Youngblood, who also owns Youngblood Excavating, purchased the property in 2014, he envisioned it as home to small automotive or machine shops. He sold lots to Tindal Truck Sales, D&D Shoes, ACE Compressors and Sellars Automotive. Now, Youngblood said, he is looking forward to the potential of expansion under the new phase of Grace Commercial Park's existence.
He also wants Graves County residents to know the site is being cleaned up the right way and that he is doing all he can to make it attractive to businesses in hopes of bringing in new jobs.
To put it bluntly, Youngblood said, "It's not a mess any more."