In August, members of the Economic Development Corp. of Jefferson County were told to be prepared to talk about the purchase of additional land near the site of a proposed multi-billion dollar natural gas-to-liquid fuel plant in northern Jefferson County. On Tuesday, the first of those purchases was discussed and approved.
The corporation, also known as the tax board, administers the three-eights cent sales tax for economic development by Jefferson County voters in 2011. Its chairman, George Makris Jr., said Tuesday that Energy Security Partners (ESP), the company that is planning to build the plant, is interested in a 23-acre piece of land adjacent to the almost 1,100 acres that the corporation previously bought and is leasing to ESP.
The selling price for the 23-acres is $200,000, which Makris said has been appraised, and an environmental impact survey has been conducted. He also said the price is fair market value.
He said the site is important to the company because that is where they are planning to build an access road into the plant. The site currently has several house trailers on it.
“We’re getting some advice on how to handle that,” Makris said, referring to the trailers.
Caleb McMahon, the director of economic development for the Economic Development Alliance for Jefferson County, said there are also several metal buildings on the property that ESP is planning to use for storage. He said the property is the largest the company has indicated they will need, although there are several other smaller pieces of adjacent property that could be purchased.
In February, the tax board approved a $3.95 million incentive package for ESP and has spent about $3 million to acquire land, including the $200,000 for the latest piece of property.
The proposed plant will be located near the National Center for Toxicological Research, and the company has obtained an easement across NCTR property to the Arkansas River. The company plans to build a dock and ship by barge the heavy equipment that will be needed for the new facility.
In addition to approving the purchase of the 23 acres, the board gave Makris the flexibility to handle other smaller land purchases without the need to call additional meetings for each.
The initial investment for the plant was put at $3.5 billion, and by the time it is completed, the cost will sit at $10 billion, which would be the largest economic development project in the state’s history.
On another subject, Makris said sales tax collections in Jefferson County for July exceeded the amount collected last July, and collections for each of the last five years have exceeded $3.4 million each year. For the 12-month period, which ended in June, the tax brought in $3.581 million.