Authority purchases old American Fibers and Yarn buildings

Published 4:57 pm Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Development Authority announced Thursday the intended purchase of the old American Fibers and Yarns building at the Decatur County Industrial Park.

A U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware that is handling the liquidation proceedings of American Fibers and Yarns approved the sale of the 185,000 square feet of warehouses and manufacturing facilities spread over four buildings to the Bainbridge-Decatur County Development Authority.

The actual closing of the 25 acres located at the Decatur County Industrial Park is imminent, said Development Authority member George Floyd.

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The Development Authority said it will use the property as its speculation buildings in order to attract other industries to Decatur County. In fact, Authority Executive Director Rick McCaskill said they are already talking with a possible tenant.

The buildings are being almost completely emptied of their equipment, with the exception of a few large mixing vats.

The property was purchased for $1.5 million from a loan using a consortium of five local banks—Park Avenue Bank, which was selected to hold the note, First Port City Bank, First National Bank of Decatur County, Peoples South Bank and Family Bank. The authority will pay back the note, which was set at a point and a half above prime, with money the authority hopes will come from potential tenants to the property.

Even if a potential tenant doesn’t materialize as soon as hoped, authority members said they got a good deal on the property. They said it was appraised at a much higher value than what it was purchased for, and the buildings are very attractive to potential industrial tenants because of such infrastructure as heavy duty electrical wiring running throughout them.

The four buildings could be marketed in 16 different ways—as one package, or as four separate buildings or in a combination of ways to accommodate a prospective tenant or tenants, McCaskill said. One building includes offices and laboratories, two are manufacturing facilities containing large mixing vats, and the fourth building is a large warehouse that is next to a railroad spur.

McCaskill said the Development Authority started working to secure the property last November when rumors that another industry would replace the closed American Fibers and Yarns didn’t pan out.

“When we found out that equipment was being sold, that’s when we decided to step in,” McCaskill said.

A little history

American Fibers and Yarns, which had its corporate headquarters in Chapel Hill, N.C., announced it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the District of Delaware on Sept. 23, 2008.

Approximately 250 employees at the Bainbridge plant were laid off in late September. According to data released in December, the current unemployment rate in Decatur County stands at 10.5 percent.

American Fibers and Yarns is a spin-off of the old Bainbridge Mills, which was built in 1973 to make carpet backing, the woven material on the underside of carpet.

The Development Authority presently doesn’t have a spec building.

The last one was an unfinished building that TRACO leased, took over in November 2006 and spent $10 million to transform the building into a manufacturing facility of hurricane-resistant doors and windows.

When TRACO finished the improvement to the old spec building, the Development Authority issued and sold up to $10 million in industrial revenue bonds with tax-exempt interest, bought the building and equipment and leased it back to TRACO over a 10-year period.

TRACO recently reduced its workforce because of the worsening economy and especially the drop within the construction industry.