Closed foundry is coming down

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Intermet crews could demolish the Ironton Iron foundry as early as mid-August, pending permit approvals from the city.

Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Intermet crews could demolish the Ironton Iron foundry as early as mid-August, pending permit approvals from the city.

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Intermet officials recently requested permits from the city to demolish the entire site of the former iron foundry after no offers were made to buy the site.

"We are looking to demolish the entire 25.5-acre facility because we have had no credible offer to purchase the property," said Mike Kelly, Intermet spokesperson. "As of right now, the plan is to get the permit and begin the demolition – which will take about six months to complete. Currently, we have no plans for future development."

Kelly said the decision is based on the company’s responsibility to maintain its properties and dispose of anything not needed for the operation of other foundries.

"We closed the plant on March 31 and now we must maintain that facility," Kelly said. "We have no future plans for the site, which is not to say that if a firm offer was made available, we wouldn’t consider selling the property. That is always a possibility. We will take a look at any offer."

City officials say they had hoped Intermet would keep them more informed of its plans for the site.

"I wish they would have made the city more aware of their decision to destroy the facility," Ironton Mayor Bob Cleary said. "We would like to have had the opportunity to make an attempt to bring someone in at that facility."

He said Intermet first requested the permits last week.

"They originally contacted my office concerning the locations of sewer systems and water supplies within the foundry," city engineer Joe McCallister said. "They are looking to destroy the facility and they didn’t want to damage any of the infrastructure that would be available for future development. The demolition crew requested a permit package last week to complete the project. That site will be a prime industrial site in the future because of its location."

In January, state officials said Intermet had entered into preliminary discussions with potential investors and indicated a willingness to sell the Ironton Iron foundry to a qualified buyer for $1.

Intermet officials announced its offer as one way to help the community deal with the company’s shutdown but stressed that the proposal hinged on finding a buyer that could demonstrate they could operate the plant and would assume any and all liabilities of the plant in "as-is" condition.

Intermet said it would not actively look for a buyer, however, federal legislators joined with city, county and state leaders in saying the plan might result in another industry at the foundry site.

Union workers facing layoffs hoped a future sale would keep them employed and enlisted national Steelworkers union representatives’ help in finding a buyer.

After the shutdown, at least three companies looked at the Ironton plant site, although Intermet told the union it wanted to begin demolition around September, said Randy Basham, international representative for Steelworkers Local 3664.

"And maybe a month or two ago, Buckeye Steel toured the plant but I don’t know what happened to that," Basham said.

Intermet had agreed with the union to hold off on demolition only if a buyer was actively seeking or interested, he said.

Yet, when companies became interested, Intermet "upped the ante" on the plant sale to include cleanup and other liabilities, Basham said.

"And that scared a lot of people off," he said.

The only way to stop the demolition is through a court injunction and that requires a potential buyer who is trying to make an offer, Basham added.

"But as of right now, there’s no one there."