Source: Oak Ridge Today | John Houtari | April 21, 2017
The Tennessee General Assembly has approved legislation that would establish the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee, or CROET, as the manager of the 1,300-acre East Tennessee Technology Park in west Oak Ridge, a press release said.
The legislation was sponsored by Tennessee Senator Ken Yager and Representative Kent Calfee, both Kingston Republicans. It has been sent to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam for his signature.
East Tennessee Technology Park, or ETTP, is also known as Heritage Center and the former K-25 site. It once housed the K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant, which was built during World War II as part of the Manhattan Project. That was a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic weapons, before Germany could.
The ETTP site, once used to enrich uranium, is slowly being cleaned up. K-25 operations ended in 1985, and the site was permanently shut down in 1987. Now, it is being slowly converted into a large industrial park. Proponents hope it will become one of East Tennessee’s prime locations for new industry, the press release said.
CROET President Lawrence Young said the state legislation “is the latest step in efforts by the Department of Energy and CROET to reindustrialize the former K-25 site and help diversify the region’s economy.”
With passage of the legislation, the organizational structure is in place for the U.S. Department of Energy to transfer the remaining portions of the industrial park to CROET, the press release said. The legislation states that after the land is transferred, CROET will enter into a lease agreement with the Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board, or IDB, to hold the property until it is sold for industrial and commercial development.
CROET currently manages about 300 acres at ETTP. CROET and the IDB have previously worked together on Horizon Center, an industrial park now managed by the IDB a few miles northeast of Heritage Center.
“I want to extend my appreciation to all the parties who made this legislation possible,” Young said of the ETTP bill. “In addition to Senator Yager and Rep. Calfee, we worked hand in hand with the Department of Energy, Roane County, and the City of Oak Ridge to lay the groundwork for the park’s long-term future.”
Besides being in west Oak Ridge, ETTP is also in eastern Roane County.
The press release said the East Tennessee Technology Park already contains infrastructure assets such as power, rail, barge, and interstate access that are critical to recruiting large industries. The park is the location of a number of private sector businesses and the proposed Oak Ridge Airport.