Producers Cooperative Oil Mill is tearing down and recycling the old tire factory where it once meant to relocate — and is staying put in the shadow of Bricktown and downtown.
Razing the 1.1-million-square-foot building will make it easier to sell land — 170 acres in the heart of southwest Oklahoma City’s industrial district — that it no longer needs, said Austin Rose, president and CEO.
Five years ago, Producers Cooperative, 6 SE 4, bought the closed-down Bridgestone/Firestone Dayton Tire factory and acreage at 2500 S Council Road to move and expand.
Since then, circumstances that made a move make sense have changed for the 70-year-old cotton and canola oil mill, which sits where seed oil compresses have operated for more than 100 years. It plans to keep only about 8 acres where it constructed oil storage tanks.
First, the pressure is off to make way for a new convention center, now being planned for west of the plant, Rose said. Second, four years of drought have kept canola farming in Oklahoma from expanding as fast as hoped, so expansion isn’t warranted, he said.
In moving terms, Producers Cooperative lost both its push factor and pull factor.
“With the development of Bricktown, and downtown as well, there was a thought that we would need to move, that somebody would want that property for a higher and better use. I think that is still going to happen. It just hasn’t moved quite as fast,” Rose said.
Producers Cooperative put its 43 acres just south of Bricktown on the market in early 2010 for $120 million, an asking price widely seen as well outside the realm of reason: $2,790,698 per acre, or $64 per square foot.
A year later, the mill offered to sell the city 15 acres as a convention center site for $41.8 million, sweetening the pitch by agreeing to contribute $3 million to extend Bricktown Canal through the property.
Nothing came of either offer, although Rose said someone eventually will want the mill acreage enough, and have money enough to buy it for redevelopment.
“You know, we have a pretty large tract down there, and it’s not easily developed. It takes a developer with big vision and a lot of money to do a tract that large,” he said. “Most of the tracts that you’ve seen redeveloped in Bricktown and downtown have been smaller acreages.”
Meanwhile, the need to expand dried up with the drought.
“We were thinking that we would continue to see the growth of canola acres in Oklahoma to a level which would justify building a new plant, a larger plant that would be more cost effective, and have all the latest technology in it,” Rose said.
In Oklahoma, winter canola is usually grown in rotation with winter wheat, and both need about the same weather conditions. Canola came through the cold, dry 2013-2014 winter in good shape, but never got enough rain at the right time, said Gene Neuens, Producers Cooperative field representative
Producers Cooperative, meanwhile, turned to crushing spring canola seed from the Dakotas, Canada and the Texas Gulf Coast, Neuens said in a report on the co-op’s web page.
More canola acreage in Oklahoma, though, is where expansion lies, Rose said.
“We have seen acreage increase, but not to the level that would support such a new facility. So we’re still waiting on that,” Rose said. “We’ve had to kind of put our plans on hold, primarily because of the four years of drought in Oklahoma, which has affected not only our canola processing but our cotton seed processing.”
Tired of no sales
The property at SW 25 and Council Road has been for sale for just more than a year, said Randy Lacey, industrial broker with Newmark Grubb Levy Strange Beffort.
First, the shuttered factory and 74 acres were offered for $6 million. Now, 164 acres, minus the building, are on the market for $9.5 million. Producers Cooperative paid $14 million for the entire site in 2009.
The tire factory, built in 1976, is functionally obsolete and would be hard to reconfigure for a new user, Rose said, so Full Metal Demolition of Plano, Texas, was brought in to dismantle it to the foundation and recycle it all.
Lacey said the plan was to sell the factory and surrounding acreage first, then the remaining land adjoining it to the north.
Lacey said the land, with rail service and access from both SW 25 and Council, not far from Interstate 40 and State Highway 152 to I-44, should be an attractive offering for multiple heavy industrial users — whether manufacturing or warehouse-distribution or both.
“It’s in Hobby Lobby’s neighborhood out here, so there’s a lot of distribution going out of here. Once the land is cleared, we see that as a real possibility,” Lacey said. “And energy companies that are looking for 30-40 acres at a time — we can divide the land up into a few separate sections.”