- Associated Press - Thursday, March 16, 2017

MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. (AP) - Ian Sanford has been involved in the real estate business long enough to know it takes time to sell a piece of property.

Because of that knowledge, the Sheffield mayor hasn’t sweated the fact a potential tax revenue source on the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Muscle Shoals Reservation remains unoccupied.

“I’m not well versed in commercial (real estate), but I think either the market is not there right now, or they haven’t reached the market,” Sanford said. “I think it’s an excellent piece of property. I think the right person will come along.”

TVA took steps Wednesday to remedy that situation by contracting with CBRE Group Inc, the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm, to market roughly 900 acres on the reservation.

TVA officials said CBRE’s marketing efforts are expected to lead to an auction in August.

The announcement was made on a sunny, but cold and windy Wednesday outside the old TVA Environmental Research Center.

In 2012, TVA announced its intentions to make surplus about 900 acres of the Muscle Shoals Reservation in order to generate economic development in the Shoals.

The property includes open land along Hatch Boulevard, one of the most-travelled roads in the Shoals. Also available are numerous buildings inside the reservation.

The first two properties were sold in August 2015. TVA Federal Credit Union purchased a lot, while another parcel containing a flood control levee was sold to Muscle Shoals.

TVA Project Manager Heather Montgomery says the utility’s efforts to sell the property took a two-year pause in order to finalize plans to relocate employees on the site, to make property improvements, and to allow Sheffield and Muscle Shoals time to complete zoning for the property.

In 2015, Muscle Shoals approved the annexation of about 600 acres on the reservation while Sheffield approved the auction of 313 acres.

The property to be marketed has full access to all utilities and has abundant access to industrial-grade water, according to TVA. There is existing infrastructure, including office, laboratory and warehouse spaces. The land has access to electricity provided by TVA.

“We will have a better understanding of potential buyers and their property usage as we move through the marketing process,” Montgomery said. “Our primary goal in selling the site is to provide the best long-term economic return to our community while preserving local recreational opportunities.”

TVA will determine the initial asking price after the property is appraised and CBRE’s market analysis is complete.

“The property is shovel-ready,” Muscle Shoals Mayor David Bradford said. “With a strong local labor force, access to 177,000 homes within an hour’s drive time, and industrial-grade water access, the property is prime real estate for businesses who want to come to the quad-cities area.”

Eric Deems, a broker for CBRE, said he is looking forward to marketing the property to clients nationally and globally. He said CBRE has had a “longstanding relationship” with TVA and assisted the utility in an advisory capacity with its Knoxville, Tennessee, headquarters project.

“We’ve had conversations with people who want to know more about it,” Deems said.

He said the property could be marketed for industrial relocation, office relocation, or commercial retail.

Colbert County Commissioner David Black said he’s suggested the Environmental Research Center could be used for a bio-agricultural research center in conjunction with bio-tech operations in Huntsville, and bio-med centers in Birmingham.

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Information from: TimesDaily, https://www.timesdaily.com/

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