Part of the Can-Clay factory along First and Adams streets. PHOTO: Mark Eisenlohr
Part of the Can-Clay factory along First and Adams streets. PHOTO: Mark Eisenlohr
TELL CITY – Big changes are in store for the now shuttered Can-Clay site in Cannelton. The property is in the hands of the county redevelopment commission, the agency now in charge of getting the land back on the tax rolls.

Comprising more than 30 acres, the company announced its closure in April. That came nearly two years after Can-Clay was stripped of its land for failing to pay property taxes.

The county now has a large project ahead of it. Much of the inventory at the factory is still there and a wide-scale cleanup of the grounds is needed.

To help facilitate the turnaround, former Can-Clay manager Jim Lewis will be entrusted to oversee many aspects. He will be the selling agent for pipe that still has value on the market. The inventory is now county-owned materials and Lewis is set to recoup 20 percent of everything he sells. He will also help coordinate removal of debris from the grounds and work with the contractors hired to raze old buildings.

An appraised value of the product on site has not been calculated, but a list price for materials was presented to the board, and there is reportedly quite a bit of merchandise to move.

In addition to his commission, Lewis will be allowed to use some of the manufacturing space to run his own pallet construction business. Terms of that arrangement hinge on the county’s ownership of the property and their need for the space.

The redevelopment commission hopes to have the cleanup done as soon as possible and secure a buyer for the grounds. To help move that along, the board opened quotes at it’s June 13 session from companies interested in demolishing dilapidated and unsafe buildings. LR Chapman provided the lowest and most enticing bid at $124,362. Coming in at about a third of the other two bidding companies’ prices, Chapman also will provide the county with 25 percent of the price recovered from the sale of scrap materials.

County attorney Chris Goffinet reported that Chapman’s low bid was possible because of the company’s involvement in industrial waste management and that there may already be schedules and means of disposal and reuse of the salvage.

The redevelopment board was hesitant to award a contract during that meeting due to financial limitations.

With just over $47,000 recouped in back taxes from the lease hashed with Can-Clay in 2017, members said they weren’t prepared to advance the deal without knowing where the balance of the money would come from.

It was pointed out that the county’s portion of salvage reimbursement would likely cover the difference, yet the board tabled the discussion for it’s next session.

The commission was also thrown a curveball in this undertaking from historical preservationists. According to Greg Sekula, regional director for Indiana Landmarks, there are several structures on the site worth saving, including the original four-story factory constructed in the early 1900s as well as the bee-hive kilns. He asked the commission to “hit the pause button” on any commitment to demolition to allow his agency time to review the property.

“Portions of the Can-Clay site are in the historic district,” Sekula continued, highlighting that redevelopment including such buildings could “create a real destination location” in the city.

Sekula asked the commission to create a master plan that would include “adaptive reuse” for buildings that could be repurposed.

Cannelton Mayor Mary Snyder is also interested in securing a 2-acre section of the property along Herzeele and Fourth streets. She explained that the city is looking at developing its own wastewater treatment plant and that spot would be ideal placement for such a facility.

Snyder asked the commission to deed that section of ground to the city. She said they are looking to secure a sizable USDA grant and loan to help upgrade the sewer system.

Snyder contended that Cannelton cannot increase its flow to the Tell City treatment plant and if the redevelopment commission ever hopes to attract a manufacturer to that site, upgraded sewer capabilities will be a must.

The commission agreed to advance a conditional sale of that section of property.
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