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Solar firm that got $26M in Miss. loans is closing

Published on NewsOK Modified: November 29, 2012 at 5:28 pm •  Published: November 29, 2012

The losses could be the biggest bath the state has taken on an economic development project since the Mississippi Beef Processors plant, 40 miles south in Oakland, collapsed. State local and federal governments lost something more than $50 million, creating a scandal that led to jail time for some people.

Twin Creeks got to help design the building, but it could be worth much less to a new user. Patrick Burke, a Memphis, Tenn., commercial real estate broker who's trying to sell a neighboring building in Senatobia, had a one-word answer when asked if the state could sell the building for $15 million: "No."

Burke's firm is offering the neighboring warehouse, which is older but still modern, for about $20 a square foot. He said the Twin Creeks building's heavy power supply could make it worth more to a manufacturer, but said other features, though attractive, were unlikely to add value in the general industrial market. He said industrial buildings around Memphis are selling for $20 to $25 a square foot, but that his company would probably take less for its 200,000-square-foot warehouse because it's distant from Memphis. At $25 a square foot, the Twin Creeks building would be worth $2.1 million.

Gelston said the state is trying to figure out how much the equipment is worth. She said some equipment might be usable by many glassmakers, but that some is specialized for solar panel makers and might have fewer potential buyers.

"The intent is to sell the equipment and remarket the building," Gelston said.

MDA Director Brent Christensen was in Germany and unavailable for comment Thursday, Gelston said. Gov. Phil Bryant planned to discuss the issue with AP on Friday, spokesman Mick Bullock said.

The state transferred the money to the city of Senatobia, which was supposed to collect lease payments and repay the state. Twin Creeks' first loan payment of $1.2 million to the city of Senatobia is due Dec. 31 and Senatobia is supposed to transfer that money to the state, in turn, by Jan. 5. The state said it's willing to work with Senatobia, but isn't ready to declare that the city is off the hook for the debt.

"We wouldn't expect Senatobia to pay us the amount of that first payment when it comes due, not that we wouldn't hold them liable, and that we would grant them an extension until a new tenant was found," Williams wrote in an email. "And the same holds true for the Development Infrastructure Program loan for infrastructure — we would be granting them an extension."

Besides what it owes the state, Tate County says Twin Creeks owes as much as $320,000 in property taxes for 2012 on the building and equipment. The firm is appealing in Tate County Circuit Court.