October 25, 2013 10:05:27 AM
In July, Stuart Millner bought the 700,000 square foot structure that once housed Omnova Solutions Inc. in east Columbus.
Millner's plan was to transform the abandoned site at the intersection of Highway 69 and Yorkville Road from a single-tenant facility into a multi-tenant facility aimed at housing light manufacturing companies and being a distribution point for others.
Millner, the president and CEO of Stuart B. Millner and Associates in St. Louis, Mo., was in Columbus on Thursday to make several announcements about what he has re-named the Columbus Business Center.
Omnova, which produces vinyl cover fabrics, has signed a five-year lease with Millner for the site to house its distribution center. Omnova will use roughly 220,000 square feet of the site and have its product, which comes from factories in Thailand, Singapore and the United States, shipped to and stored at the location before being shipped to buyers, Millner said.
"The significance of that is that Omnova has made a commitment to the community and to the site that we're in," he added. "When we finish with the renovation...it will be a world-class distribution center."
He said a $500,000 investment is being made toward renovating Omnova's space at the site.
Omnova has approximately 28 employees at the facility.
Millner also announced that Machinery Mart, a company that buys and sells machine tools and equipment, has signed a five-year lease to use 60,000 square feet at the Columbus Business Center. The Ohio-based company, which has begun moving equipment into the site, will eventually employee about six people in Columbus.
The tenancy of Omnova and Machinery Mart leaves roughly 420,000 square feet of available space at the site.
Millner said that he is also working on "three or four very active inquiries" from other companies. He declined to name them, but said one is a railroad repair and construction company and the other is a light manufacturing company that deals in truck bodies.
"We're going to open up more and more space," Millner said. "For the 3,200 square foot user all the way up to the 200,000 square foot tenant."
Millner, who owns an asset management company, said he and his team are still in the process of removing machinery from the site that Omnova once used. He employees about 15 people who are working on that renovation process, which he estimates costs approximately $25,000 a week.
"I'd say by March or April we'll be completely done with that and be open for business on a grand scale," he said, adding that within the next 18 months he expects the Columbus Business Center to be "60 or 70 percent leased" and for companies using the site to employee between 200 and 300 people.
Millner recently met with officials from the Mississippi Department of Transportation about constructing a new entrance off Highway 69 into the facility by next spring. As it stands, the only way into the site is off Yorkville Road. Opening a Highway 69 entrance would ease potential congestion problems.
"That will open up and entirely different look to the property and give the opportunity to Omnova and other tenants to have direct access to the highway," Millner said.
Also on Thursday, Millner announced that Cathy Coleman has accepted the position of general manager at the Columbus Business Center after several months of coordinating marketing and advertising efforts.
She will work at the site and manage "the entire process as we go through this metamorphosis at this property," Millner said.