• 57°

Project will make speculative building ready for occupancy

Community officials finalized the future of the industrialpark’s speculative building Tuesday morning during apreconstruction meeting.

Tuesday’s move signals an end to the building site’s years ofenvironmental-related troubles.

Pike Construction, of McComb, was given the go-ahead Tuesday tobegin pouring the building’s internal concrete slab on Feb. 4, witha June 2 deadline to finish the $288,990 project.

These preparations are being made for the building’s futureoccupant, Sola Fide Inc., a warehousing and distribution company inBrookhaven that has agreed in principal to a 10-year lease of thebuilding with an option to buy after that period.

Brookhaven Mayor Bob Massengill shared his enthusiasm at puttingthe building to use.

“I’m excited that work on the spec building is moving forward,”Massengill said. “The contractor should begin working within verynext few days, and we’re pleased that [Bert Carollo, president ofSola Fide, Inc.] is leasing the building. I’m extremely pleased tohave this economic opportunity in our community.”

Carollo’s enthusiasm may have transformed into relief. After anumber of years of waiting, he is ready to move Sola Fide Inc. intoits new home.

“It’s been five years in the waiting – five years since we gotinvolved,” he said. “It’s taken a long time to get there, but we’reglad to be here.”

Besides covering the building’s internal area of 48,000 squarefeet with a new concrete floor, Pike Construction will alsoconstruct three concrete loading docks, as well as plumbing anddrainage for the facility. Once the concrete work is completed inearly June, Sola Fide will perform further construction to readythe building for operations.

As always has been the case with the speculative building, timeis the most prominent issue. The Feb. 4 start date for thebuilding’s upgrades is crucial in maintaining a $250,000 grant fromthe Mississippi Development Authority.

“Our main concern now is to utilize this grant before it runsout,” said Brookhaven City Clerk Mike Jinks. “We’ve been tied upfor several years with the Mississippi Department of EnvironmentalQuality (MDEQ). We’ve had some issues, and we had to get clearancefrom them.”

The environmental issues began shortly after the building wasconstructed in the late 1990s, when it was discovered that thespeculative building grounds were contaminated with dioxins, a typeof potentially cancer-causing chlorinated hydrocarbons, thatdrifted to the site from the nearby Escambia Wood PreservingSite.

“The plant had released airborne dioxins onto the property,”said Cliff Brumfield, executive director of the Brookhaven-LincolnCounty Chamber of Commerce. “It was discovered during anEnvironmental Protection Agency analysis of surface soils.”

Brumfield said the dioxins were most likely stirred by thespeculative building’s construction. The chamber of commerce hadthe site tested and evaluated in 2005 and 2006, discovering thatthe level of dioxins in the soil had dissipated enough to make thearea safe. MDEQ and the Environmental Protection Agency beganworking with the city to clean up the remaining contamination.

“The total dioxin level at the site now is so low it’s almostirrelevant,” Brumfield said.

Today, the site is safe, clean and the cause of rejoicing bycity and county officials, who gave life to the speculativebuilding with a joint agreement more than 10 years ago.

“It’s a good building – it’s going to make Sola Fide a goodfacility for what it does,” said Lincoln County Chancery ClerkTillmon Bishop, who was the executive vice president of the chamberof commerce when the speculative building was constructed. “I’mjust very happy to see a growing business move into that building.It’s been a long time coming.”