The Colusa City Council plunged full speed ahead last week on plans to acquire and revitalize the old Pirelli Cable plant property, located just off Highway 20 on Will S. Green Road, within the city limits.
City officials voted unanimously to lease the property from Prysian Cable Co. (Pirelli) for one year – with the option to purchase. The plant has been closed since 2002.
“The building has just been sitting there for 18 years,” said City Manager Jesse Cain. “If we don’t do something, it will just sit there for another 18 years.”
The securing of the facility was a necessary first step for the city to apply for a $3 million state Housing and Community Development grant by the Sept. 15 deadline, which could be used to purchase and rehabilitate the 200,000 square foot building, which sits on a 40 acre lot, said the city’s economic development consultant, Kristy Levings, of Golden Oak Business Service.
Plans have been in the works for nearly one year to convert the facility, which has full access to utilities (electricity, water, sewer) into a biomaterial facility for the manufacturing of products from agriculture materials like hemp, rice straw, seeds, and almond hulls.
“This opportunity is before us and we may never get this again,” said Councilman Tom Reische, who motioned to move forward.
The city anticipates an award of a $115,000 USDA Rural Development planning grant, with no cash match from the general fund, to pay for the feasibility study and construction analysis.
The City Council, at their Sept. 1 meeting, authorized Cain to enter into a service contract agreement with Cambios Design, in the amount of $28,900, to do the architectural and electrical assessment of the Pirelli building, which would give the city a plan and the cost of moving forward.
“This will help us get the facility shovel ready,” said Levings, who provided a variety of funding options at various special meetings and webinars in the past month.
The city is also applying for a multi-million dollar federal grant from the Department of Commerce to get the building available for tenants by as early as next spring, who the city hopes to entice with an initial lease option of 20 cents per square foot, which is far below the current market rate of about $1 per square foot for industrial property.
At full build out, the city hopes to bring in up to $1.9 million a year in revenue from tenants through a tiered approach.
Officials call the plan to create a biomaterial facility a momentous undertaking, but if successful, it would drive economic development and bring good paying jobs to Colusa.
“With risk comes reward,” Cain said.
The lease agreement with Prysian is for 12 months. The first six months will be at no cost to the city, with $5,000 per month rent due thereafter for the remaining six months, after which the city can either opt in or opt out of purchasing the property.
“My apprehension level is off the board, but knowing that there is an exit plan, and hoping that this council has the foresight to exercise that if if comes to that, I will vote yes,” said Councilman Greg Ponciano.
The city will have the building appraised at a cost of $8,000 to $10,000, funded by the USDA grant. Utilities run about $2,700 a month, which the city will be also be responsible for, officials said.
The city anticipates the total risk to get the project “off the ground” to be less than $100,000, should they not succeed in getting the grants to purchase and rehabilitate the property.
Prysian will assume all costs for the required environmental cleanup, Cain said. ♣