By Brandon Martin
The Henry County Industrial Development Authority agreed to transfer 55 acres of land from Lot 4 of the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre to Crown Holdings for free.
A single acre of developed land is valued at $175,000, with a $9.6 million total value of the land grant, according to County Administrator Tim Hall.
The transfer of land and accompanying deed will help solidify other performance agreements with Crown Holdings, which recently made the largest single economic investment in the history of the county.
Mark Heath, president and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp., said the company is ready to get to work.
“This plant needed to be built yesterday,” Heath said. “There is a 40 billion backlog of cans today, and it’s growing every day. This company is having to ship cans from other places to meet contracts. The good news is the (land and air disturbing) permits were delivered to Alliance the day before yesterday (April 19). We expect activity on the site by May, if not sooner.”
The company’s local facility will be 313,000-square-feet, Heath said, and added “we are encouraged that they are grading and planning for a roughly 170,000-foot expansion at the same time. It bodes well for us in the future.”
The company intends to have the plant fully operational within 12-13 months, Heath said.
“It’s really unheard of. They know how to do it. They are bringing in people to do it,” Heath said. “It’s just been a pleasure to work with people that tell you what they are going to do, they do what they say, and they don’t nickel and dime you or quibble over things. This is exactly the kind of company we had in mind.”
In addition to the financial investment to the county, Hall said the company also is looking for ways to become more involved with the community.
“We want to recruit quality companies, but we also want to recruit companies that want to be part of the community,” Hall said. “These guys have already approached us about things they can do in the community. Generally, we start that conversation. This time, these guys started that with us, which is good to hear.”
An important goal for Crown Holdings is to operate in an environmentally friendly manner.
“They are fully into renewable energy, carbon footprint, and that sort of thing,” Hall said. “They want to do it the right way. They are in 40 different countries, so they must have done it the right way to get into 40 different countries.”
Tim Pace, director of engineering, said the street the company locates on is named ‘Sustainable Way.’
The name ties into “their belief of being environmentally friendly,” Hall said.
Heath added that the company has been named one of the top 100 “sustainable companies” in the world.
“They are looking at some potential solar,” Pace said. “The vacant property that will be left at this pad, they are looking at the potential of putting a solar farm there to help with that. AEP offers a rider that you can pay which will allow you to say that all of your energy is produced by renewable energy. They are big on the environment.”
George Lyle, county attorney, discussed the legal documents at play with the real estate transfer.
“The first thing we are going to approve is a real estate agreement in advance,” Lyle said. “The idea is giving the land to Crown Cork & Seal Company as part of the bigger performance agreement between the Commonwealth, the county, the IDA and the EDC. There is a reversionary clause in it that basically says if you don’t do the performance agreement like you are supposed to, there is a mechanism by which we can get our free land back.”
Secondly, the authority approved the deed of gift to Crown Holdings, which recites all the proper exemptions, surveys and references.
“There was a lot of work on the actual survey of property,” Lyle said. “They didn’t want the whole parcel that we would have given them. They wanted less. That leaves residual land that the IDA will own that is basically undevelopable.”
Lyle said he expected to record the land transfer the same day it was approved.