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Long-vacant building awaits sale at auction

A long-vacant building from Brookhaven’s manufacturing past willcome under new ownership later this month with a chance to providenew jobs in the city, economic development officials said.

The old Homelite Jacobsen building on Industrial Park Road willbe sold in absolute auction – to the highest bidder, no matter thebid – on April 24. Wingfield Auctions, the company presiding overthe sale, has advertised the 237,175 square foot building and its21-acre lot to almost 20 different manufacturers and businesses allacross the South.

“We’ve marketed the building heavily – we’ve covered allmanufacturing companies, anything from textiles to electronics,”said Wingfield Auctions co-owner and operator Randy Wingfield. “Andwe’ve covered the industrial R and D sectors pretty much nationwidewith specific interest in this type of building. We’ve tried totarget a market that would employ 50 employees or more, somethingthat would create some revenue for the city and county.”

Wingfield said the most likely candidate for purchasing theHomelite Jacobsen building would be a business with a specific needto be located between Jackson and New Orleans, La. In this case,Wingfield said the site was well-suited, with a good locationwithin the industrial park and good access to Interstate 55.

The building could also be purchased by an incubator investor,who would partition the structure into smaller spaces for rent todifferent businesses. Wingfield said incubator investors often lookfor large, unutilized buildings in a rural area.

“We’ve had several calls regarding that,” Wingfield said. “Noteveryone will be able to occupy a 200,000-plus square footbuilding.”

Wingfield is expecting a good turnout for the auction, as thebuilding will be sold with no minimum and no reserve. He said thebuilding is in good shape financially, with all its taxes paid upto date and an assessed value of approximately $2 million.

“It needs a new owner – someone who can come in and supply jobsand create some revenue,” Wingfield said.

While size and location are positives, the Homelite Jacobsenbuilding also has some aspects that make it less attractive to apotential buyer – issues such as a less than advantageous layoutand critically low ceilings.

“It has an average ceiling height of about 16 feet, and mostindustries we’ve met are looking for 30 feet or higher,” saidBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Executive VicePresident Cliff Brumfield. “That’s one thing that makes it lessattractive to modern industries.”

In the past, an empty industrial building up for absoluteauction would have been an instant target for potential industries.Modern industries, however, are prepared to invest in constructingtheir own facilities and look more for skilled workers in a givenarea, Brumfield said. While an available building is still a pluswhen attempting to attract industries to an area, Brumfield saidworkforce training has absolutely taken the place of the specbuilding.

However, Brumfield said the Homelite Jacobsen building doespossess an economic viability for the right project if bought atthe right price. He is prepared to work closely with the new ownerto develop the building.

“The chamber and the Industrial Development Foundation willgladly work with them to pursue offerings from the MississippiDevelopment Authority in the way of creative financing andtraining,” he said. “Naturally, the new owner would have to providesubstantial employment and investment to take advantage of thesebenefits, not just simply purchase the building – it would be forthe right suitor that would utilize the building and help grow theBrookhaven and Lincoln County economy.”

The Homelite Jacobsen building has served as the home ofJohnson, Textron and was used by the Wal-Mart Distribution Center.It has stood empty in the Industrial Park since 1996.