Alter Trading Corp., doing business as TRG Jonesboro, will move its scrapyard from Flint Street downtown to the former Jonesboro Recycling Team site on Vance Drive, and the city is looking at the property to be vacated for a green space project.
Mayor Harold Perrin and the company’s chief administrative officer, Jack Grundfest, announced the plans last week. Alter Trading Corp. closed on its purchase of substantially all the assets of Jonesboro Recycling Team in November.
The relocation effort could take up to two years, the mayor said, though Grundfest told Arkansas Business in an email, “This is still undetermined. A lot depends on the business climate over the next few years.”
While the move is ongoing, the city will be studying the feasibility of acquiring all or part of the 9-acre site the scrapyard is moving from and seeking grants that would help fund such a purchase. The mayor added that he’d like to secure a right of first refusal from the company, but emphasized that no agreement to buy the property is in place yet.
The downtown site is one block from Union Street, which is two blocks from Main Street, Perrin said. So it would be “excellent for redevelopment for, in my opinion, for green space, to possibly have an amphitheater, walking trail, etc.,” he said. “It sits right next to a city youth ministry nonprofit that has our kids after school and during the day. It would just blend in perfectly with what we’re trying to develop downtown.”
Perrin added that Union Street is beginning to look like Main, which is mostly “loft apartments above and retail on the bottom.”
The company is open to selling some or all of the property to the city, it seems.
“Once the move is complete, we will be open to interest from and discussion with the city and any other prospective purchasers,” Grundfest said, declining to talk about how much the company would want for the site. “We will have the property valued by professionals at the appropriate time.”
Regardless of whether the city ends up with the downtown site, it will be rezoned and Perrin expects the city council to approve a timely moratorium on scrapyards inside city limits.
He’s also pleased with the move because several studies have warned the city that the scrapyard is a hindrance to downtown revitalization, as no one wants to invest in property next to a scrapyard.
“The salvage yard/scrap yard has been in Jonesboro there since like 1907, somewhere in there, and, obviously, that might have been a good place in 1907 for it to be because it’s next to the railroad tracks,” Perrin said. “But, as we grew and tried to redevelop our downtown area, obviously, that was something that we felt like need to be moved. … It’s sort of like a Christmas present to me and to the city, I think.”
The mayor said he started talking to the previous owners years ago, but they said they’d move if the city paid for it, and the city can’t use taxpayer money like that. Even if it could, it doesn’t have enough funds for such a project.
Luckily, the company changed hands and decided to buy the other scrapyard, and it is on the same page as the city now.
“We have an informal verbal agreement with the city that we will continue our open lines of communication and to cooperate for our collective best interest,” Grundfest said. He also said the company had been speaking with the city about moving the scrapyard out of downtown for about a year.
“Moving the yard is beneficial to Alter Trading and to the city. By moving to the JRT location on Vance and Distributor Drives, we are physically much closer to accounts where we buy a significant portion of our volume, thereby decreasing transportation costs,” Grundfest said.