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Watertown Trust has prospect for City Center Industrial Park

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A local manufacturer is considering a 100,000-square-foot warehouse on the last remaining unused land in the City Center Industrial Park.

Donald W. Rutherford, the CEO of Watertown Local Development Corp., also known as the Watertown Trust, said on Thursday he is working with the unidentified company on a deal that would bring 100 existing jobs plus 20 new ones to the site off South Bellew Avenue.

The company would work with a developer to build the structure and then lease it and the approximate 11 acres from the builder, he said. Four developers have been interviewed for the job.

Saying the project is “in the early stages,” Mr. Rutherford said other potential prospects had looked at the wooded site — consisting of lots 9, 10 and 11 — behind Current Applications and adjacent to the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building, but those projects never materialized.

He could hear by the end of July whether the company’s board of directors will give the final decision to proceed with construction of the warehouse. If all goes well, work would begin in August or September and the building would be ready for occupancy next year, he said.

“It’s an exciting project...,” Mr. Rutherford said. “I’m continuing to keep my fingers crossed.”

He would not name the company or what it produces.

“That would give it away,” he said.

The project also depends on working on arrangements with the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency to move an existing rail line at the industrial park to run along the warehouse and with CSX Corp. to provide a rail switch, Mr. Rutherford said.

The company would use the rail line for both shipping products and receiving raw materials, he said.

Much of the discussion at Thursday’s Watertown Trust meeting revolved around the railroad issues. The JCIDA owns the rail siding, while the never-used switch is owned by CSX. If the existing switch cannot be used, a new one would be installed, he said.

Back in 2001, when the spur was being planned, JCIDA paid CSX $85,000 for the switch as part of the $370,000 it paid for the construction of the spur. The bulk of that money, $340,000, was provided through a state grant. While the spur was built to attract companies to the park, no company there has yet used it. It was completed in 2002.

Mr. Rutherford told board members that he has to figure out who would pay for the rail line and the CSX rail switch and how much it would cost. The board gave him the go-ahead to work on predesign phase of the project.

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