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Owner Seeks Brownfields Agreement For Large Tract Off U.S. 421

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Jun 11, 2018
A brownfields application for nearly 600 acres off U.S. 421 has been submitted for its future redevelopment.

Tree Shaker Acquisitions LLC purchased the property in 2017 from BASF Corp., a New Jersey-headquartered chemical company, and there was previously a vitamin manufacturing facility on a portion of the site, according to an application submitted to N.C. Brownfields Program. The brownfields program is part of the N.C Department of Environmental Quality's Division of Waste Management. 

According to brownfield documents on the property, manufacturing closed at the site in 2009.

The brownfields application for the property, located at 110 Vitamin Drive, was submitted by the company in May.

Mike Ball, owner of Tree Shaker Acquisitions, a limited liability company registered in Ohio, said his firm specializes in remediating industrial and commercial sites that might have environmental concerns. Ball's company purchased a total of 702 acres of former BASF Corp. land off U.S. 421 in New Hanover County. 

Ball said in a news release, that "Tree Shaker Acquisitions LLC primarily works to procure former BASF Corporation facilities, or sites they may have acquired in market acquisitions from other companies."

Tree Shaker Acquisitions sold 113 acres of the large U.S. 421 tract "to a local company for future expansion of their business," he said, not naming the company.

According to New Hanover property tax records, Phillips Leasing Systems LLC purchased the industrially zoned property in early 2017 for $595,000. The N.C. Secretary of State lists the registered agent of the company as Phillip McCorquodale at 327 Alexander St. in Fayetteville, where Phillips Towing & Recovering Systems is headquartered, according to the company website. It also lists an office in Wilmington at 110 Cowpen Landing Road, just off U.S. 421.

“Tree Shaker works with local, state and federal agencies to meet or exceed all environmental conditions for these properties for re-sale to developers and or local county and city governments to redevelop for new job opportunities for their communities,” Ball said in the release. “The relationship with BASF has been a great fit for our business model due to the fact BASF and Tree Shaker are very sensitive to all environmental matters in making these properties safe for all concerned, including the wildlife in these areas.”

Ball said that the brownfields program “brings great legal protection to all future parties that wish to develop the property.”

The brownfield application states that groundwater was found to be contaminated with elevated levels of arsenic and chlorides. The contamination is believed to be naturally occurring, however, the vitamin manufacturing facility located north of the subject site could be the source of the elevated levels of these constituents."

The remaining 585 acres of the BASF tract is seeking entry into the brownfields program, he said. "Tree Shaker is told that we will soon receive the Letter of Eligibility (LOE) for the brownfield program," Ball said.

The property is listed for a price of $1.95 million on LoopNet.

The property is currently underused and vacant, according to the brownfields application. "The property cannot be developed for beneficial use until a brownfields agreement has been executed," Ball states in the application.

The application states that the current tax value of the property is more than $2 million. An estimated capital investment in a redevelopment project could be $20 million with an estimated 100 to 250 jobs for the area.

Robert Dunn, broker with Charlotte-based industrial real estate firm The Stump Corp., said Monday that there are several parties interested in the site, but the property is still being marketed.

“The highest and best use of this property is for industrial development, large distribution, similar to what Pender County is doing on the other side of the property,” said Dunn.

The property is located just south of the Pender Commerce Park, where FedEx Freight has recently broken ground and Coastal Beverage Co. has plans to build a new facility.

Leonhardt Environmental Consultants of Raleigh is assisting the company, along with Rountree Losee LLP in Wilmington, which is assisting in legal transactions for the site. Dunn is representing the company for the sale of this property and others in North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee, Ball said.

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