State makes move to relocate PSC Metals from riverfront

Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 12:15pm

State officials appear to be paving the way for the relocation of PSC Metals Inc., an eyesore on the east bank of the Cumberland River for decades and occupant of what is arguably Nashville’s most coveted piece of real estate.

Tucked away in a still-pending state Senate bill to change Tennessee’s tax code is an amendment that — if passed — would authorize Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr to “allow a relocation expense credit to any scrap metal processing facility relocating from a central business district or an area adjacent to the central business district and separated only by a waterway.”

The clause, which would work as enabling legislation, describes without naming the 60-acre site for PSC, a processor of scrap metal that recycles more than 250,000 pounds of unwanted material a year — items like old cars, refrigerators and dryers. The PSC site is perhaps most notable for its unsightly piles of twisted metal, warehouses and machinery that have long marred Nashville’s skyline.

The amendment goes on to say that the state would cover the company’s relocation expenses. The law would cap how much the company could be reimbursed for moving its employees.

The bill cleared the Senate’s Finance, Ways and Means Committee during a marathon session Thursday night, but it still requires approval from the state House and Senate.

Contacted by The City Paper, Farr declined to confirm whether the amendment is a direct reference to the PSC site.

“We don’t talk about discussions with individual taxpayers,” he said.

Farr said a relocation expense credit incentive has been part of the state’s “suite of incentives” for the last six years.

“It’s been very successful,” Farr said. “It’s been a good tool to have in our economic-development tool-kit. This [amendment] provides some discretion to allow that tool to be used, were a scrap-metal recycling facility to consider relocating from a central business district.”

Valuable land

For a city undergoing a revitalization of its downtown, most recognize that PSC at its current location is out of place. The scrap-metal yard is positioned directly across the street from LP Field; a short walk from the commercial activity of downtown; and a stone’s throw from a soon-to-be-built water play-park, the first piece of a $30 million revitalization of the long-neglected banks of the Cumberland.

Given its desirable location, knowledgeable real estate sources have valued the land to be worth $15-to-$30 per square foot, which would mean the site’s total value is between $50 million and $100 million.

In recent months, state officials, including Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber, have reportedly met with Mayor Karl Dean and PSC officials to discuss the relocation of the facility.

In an interview with The City Paper last week, Dean acknowledged the PSC site is on his “radar.”

“Long-term, clearly, it has been an interest of mine and probably every mayor who has come before me,” Dean said of relocating the PSC site. “That is the entryway to our city. It is a great development possibility, both for the public sector and private sector for our city.”

Kisber could not be reached for comment before print deadline.

Dean certainly isn’t the first Nashville mayor to eye the property. But previous administrations have always run into sticking points: Whether it’s been PSC’s reluctance to move from a property that provides them ideal access to barges and the interstate; the unwillingness of a private developer to go public with a proposal; or the inability of Metro and state officials to come up with a financial package that could steer the company to a different part of the county.

In recent weeks, a new strategy of sorts appeared to surface, a procedural one that resulted from Nashville’s catastrophic flood last month. WTVF-Channel 5 first reported the story with the angle “Officials May Have Found Way to Move PSC Plant.”

During Nashville’s historic flood, PSC was left submerged under floodwater that reached upwards of 6 feet. According to a report filed by a Metro Codes inspector and accessible via the department’s website, the plant sustained damages categorized as “Level 4: 75 to 100 percent.”

All businesses treated alike

As required of all owners with structures that experienced sizable flood-related damages, PSC must apply for new building permits. The zoning guidelines, however, have changed in recent years for industrial uses in the downtown riverfront area after the adoption of new codes. Among other stipulations, new codes — regardless of whether PSC is classified as recycling, storage or warehouse — prohibit any outdoor storage and limit the gross floor area that can be utilized.

On the surface, in order to receive a new building permit, PSC would need to abide by these new standards, criteria that would undermine the company’s ability to carry out its service.

East Nashville Metro Councilman Mike Jameson, who has advocated for the redevelopment of the PSC site for years, called it a possible “silver lining” to an otherwise horrific event.

But state law says “A legal, non-conforming business for industrial use can remain virtually forever,” according to Metro Codes Director Terry Cobb. It allows property owners “to tear down, rebuild or expand,” even if a new set of local codes had been applied to the property.

“The state law actually prohibits us from acting in a manner to say, ‘OK, you had a flood, you had damage, so you can’t build back,’ ” Cobb said. “The state statute is specific to say that you have the right to build back. In fact, if you have some calamity that affected your business, you can build it back or you can expand it. If you wanted to, you could tear the whole thing down and rebuild it again brand-new.”

Contacted last week at the PSC corporate office in Cleveland, Ohio, Joe King, vice president and general counsel for the company, said the Nashville PSC site is in the process of returning to full operations.

As of Wednesday, King said the Nashville facility had started to buy and sell scrap — including debris left from the flood — and had engaged in some limited processing.

“Every business on the river has had water issues as a result of the flood,” King said. “PSC is no different than others, including LP Field. We are thankful, and we applaud the efforts of the folks that are restoring our facility.”

King did not immediately respond to subsequent requests for comment on the state bill.

Filed under: City News

23 Comments on this post:

By: idgaf on 5/29/10 at 1:20

Makes sense to me (NOT) to not only get rid of a tax payer but pay him to move so you can put another non taxpayer in there.

How else can you destroy the economy? The dems are accepting all ideas. Heard they are paying for the ones they use too.

By: concernedtaxpayer on 5/29/10 at 2:02

Why keep on attempting to improve downtown nashville. Even though I am a citizen and taxpayer of Davidson County, I agree with others that downtown is a sh*t hole with primarily only having businesses to drink. Downtown Nashville is the most unfriendly family area.

By: idgaf on 5/29/10 at 5:12

By: concernedtaxpayer on 5/29/10 at 3:02
Downtown Nashville is the most unfriendly family area.

Never heard it put that way before but you are absolutely right. Even if you are a single that don't drink there is no attraction down there and it is the wrong place for an amusement park which has been floated.

Only an idiot would take prime real estate and use it for that purpose and parking would be un-userfriendly.

#1 priority should be to stop spending money, especially down there and at least till we see how much of a bath we are going to take on MCC which they lied to us about.

By: dwight14 on 5/29/10 at 6:31

bringing in more business that is family friendly is the only way to make this change...having a park across from lp field will be a huge improvement....ya gotta start somewhere...and as for that part of nashville not being family friendly,it has improved dramitically over the last few yrs...better resturants,a soon to be margaritaville,downtown is becoming more metropolitan..the homeless that do hang out will soon be squeezed out when more and more 'CLEANER" move in...i think its a great move...

By: arkay61 on 5/30/10 at 5:37

Nice pipe dream Dwight. I wish that would happen but it won't. Here's why:

The Campus for Human Development is finishing up a HUGE expansion to their homeless shelter merely three blocks from where the new CC is being built. Built across the street from the Mission, the influx of homeless will not get any smaller. (Just curious, where were you planning to "squeeze them out" to?) Besides, with free MTA passes they are now able to keep downtown as their base of operation but panhandle all over the county.

Secondly, Metro has shown no willingness to clean up the gang bangers that take over downtown on the weekends. If people had any idea how many guns are taken off thugs on 2nd. Ave. they would never go down there again. I know PD tackled four thugs in two separate fights this past Sat. night and three of the four had guns on them. Clubs like Atlantis, Ice and Fuel are nothing but hangouts for thugs. The street is even lined with thug wannabes standing around waiting for the inevitable fights to break out. If they are not fighting with each other, they are fighting with the cops. It makes great entertainment.

Concerned and id are correct, downtown is a a ****-hole. Until Metro comes up a plan that encompasses something downtown besides another liquoring hole, it isn't going to get any better. Margaritaville isn't going to improve anything except the bottom line of the property owners.

By: KaeWor on 5/30/10 at 7:37

I couldn't really say if this new legislation is the right way to remove/relocate PSC Metals, but it definitely needs to go. Being in such a visible spot, people passing through town on the interstate get the impression that central Nashville is one big junk-yard. It's more than superficial; it affects people's impression of our city. What images come to mind when someone mentions Cleveland or Detroit? Relocating PSC will be great for Nashville -- it should have been done years ago.
As for those who think downtown is some sort of gang-run ghetto, you've obviously never lived in a MAJOR city. Chicago or Philadelphia would LOVE to have the kind of problems our metro cops have on the weekends. The most violent people in downtown Nashville at night are usually the bouncers. I love this town and I think the people in it are great. I can't understand all the pessimism expressed above. "Downtown sucks so why try and fix it." Really? How 'bout you stay on your soap box out there in the suburbs where you live and leave this to real Nashvillians.

By: yank283 on 5/30/10 at 9:02

Here here KaeWor. I suggest some of our doubting suburbanites take a weekend trip down to Chattanooga and check-out their riverfront. Volkswagen listed the revitalized downtown/riverfront as a major factor to locating the facility there. I guess the people who motor in from from the far fringes only once in a blue moon, staying safely in the confines of their climate controlled vehicle, don't notice the improvements that are happening downtown, and to the inner-neighborhoods. And that world class Schermerhorn Symphony Center and downtown library sure are $hit&*^%. Yeah, we need more big box strip malls, interstates and new subdivisions built on flood plains and former civil war battlefields...

By: idgaf on 5/30/10 at 4:02

What we need to do is stop spending money like we have an unlimited supply.

The MCC is going to bring many suprises to some of you and they won't be good.

By: chino on 5/31/10 at 7:28

The city is paying for MCC.. This would be paid for by the state.

PSC needs to go.. Its a scar on the face of Nashville.. Not only is it an eyesore but the tax revenue that would be generated by new development there would be far greater then what PSC pays today. They generate just over 200k annually a year in tax revenue. The city is losing money by keeping PSC in that location.

Its time has come.. For those that will fondly miss it, Im sure PSC would not mind if you make a pilgrimage to go see it.
Meanwhile, I'll be downtown, with other progressive Nashvillians enjoying the Library, Frist, Predators, Symphony, Titans, Restaurants, Honky Tonks (w. lots of beers) and the re-developed riverfront.

BTW.. An amusement park in downtown Nashville is a HORRIBLE idea. No place for them to expand if its a success and traffic would be a nightmare! Mixed use entertainment, living, working is where its at.

By: DodgerBbob on 5/31/10 at 12:18

DB ..........Value???
right now this little gem of toxic waste has about as much value as Love Canal!!! for this place to have any value every square inch of that whole area would have to be excavated down at least 20 feet or more and hauled away to a facility that could handle the decades of waste that has been dumped there ....The cost would be stagering .....I cant see anything happening there in a very long time .

By: govskeptic on 6/1/10 at 6:38

I don't see how a toxic waste site could possibly have the type
dollar value as mentioned in this article. Closed service stations are required to clean up their tank sites, why shouldn't
this apply to the PSC site as well?

By: trtay2004 on 6/1/10 at 7:57

GO NASHVILLE!!! I'm proud to see them continue to improve the inner city. It's come a long way and this is one huge leap in the right direction. For the skeptics who claim it isn't family friendly, obviously have not been to anything downtown in a long time. My entire family go to TPAC to see shows about once a month. It's so nice to walk down the nicely light street with landscaping and music playing on the speakers. VERY family friendly.

By: localboy on 6/1/10 at 8:46

The publicans turn on their own bread and butter...

By: Alphadog7 on 6/1/10 at 9:40


“allow a relocation expense credit to any scrap metal processing facility relocating from a central business district or an area adjacent to the central business district and separated only by a waterway.”

That narrows it down to about 1.

By: Alphadog7 on 6/1/10 at 10:16

Chino summed it up well. (Although I am certainly not a "progressive" politically) I totally agree...

PSC's tax revenue would likely not change because they want to move them within the county.

By: NewYorker1 on 6/1/10 at 11:43

Something like Atlantic Station in Atlanta would be the idea thing for this site. I believe Atlantic Station was built over an industrial site like PSC Metal. Shopping and restaurants would be great there with underground parking similar to Atlantic Station.

By: shinestx on 6/1/10 at 12:19

Hey, Localdope... If by "publican" you mean "Republican", you should educate yourself on a few things. First, get the facts as to who runs Metro Nashville- Davidson County... um, Democrats... Democrats... Democrats... from east to (yes, gasp!!!) west. That's right, Dem-wits are lousy in Belle Meade, these are the old "Blue Dog" racist kind who use the Dem-wit Party to keep special state/federal/local programs well funded to keep minorities out of their enclaves and to keep themselves in power. And of course, you are completely wrong (gee, big surprise) about who runs PSC Metals too... um, check out the Spector family, and other officers of PSC Metals... huge... huge... huge... huge contributors to the Dem-wits in Ohio and Barack Hussein Obama.

Golly, whodathunk there's be an unimformed/misinformed Dem-wit posting on this board. And some people wonder who our country is so scrooood!!

By: producer2 on 6/1/10 at 1:04

thanks for sharing shinestix. Next time tell us how you really feel and better yet have it be relevant to the topic.

By: cannoneer2 on 6/1/10 at 3:06

Don't focus on incentives. Tell 'em that the state or city will be taking the land by eminent domain just like they would if some little guy owned it. Pay them "fair" market value just like anyone else.

By: localboy on 6/1/10 at 3:32

publican=collector of taxes or tolls.
Thanks for playing along, shinstx.

By: shinestx on 6/1/10 at 6:03

You only hear the word used these days as an anti-semitic slam. Certainly you didn't mean it that way!

By: localboy on 6/2/10 at 8:37

Haven't heard that on the streets of our re-publican district; more are worried about the shrinking tax base. But thanks for setting us straight.

By: Miransky on 6/2/10 at 2:31

PSC recycles over 250,000 TONS, not pounds of metal per year. It is an eyesore to those who do not appreciate recycling--real recycling, because that is what goes on there. Not artificial recycling like collecting newsprint or glass at the curbside when those commodities have no real commercial value. Yes, PSC is not in the right place, but I have no doubt they would move if (1) they were compensated adequately for the move, (2) the property owners were compensated fairly for the taken property, and (3) if there is a suitable replacement parcel that would give PSC everything they have where they are: proximity to the city and acces to the water for barge shipments. And I am sure dealing with Carl Icahn on this move will be a piece of cake. I've heard he's a really nice and agreeable man.