Itawamba county, Fulton purchase Hickory Hill building

By Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times

Itawamba County and the city of Fulton are now the proud co-owners of the former home of Hickory Hill Furniture.
The county and city jointly purchased the 160,000-square-foot facility on June 23 at a cost of $800,000, made possible through a loan with Three Rivers Planning and Development. Included with the purchase was approximately 40 acres of land.
According to Itawamba County Development Council Executive Director Greg Deakle, the purchase price came in under the assessed value of the property, making it a good investment for the local governments.
“It’s a very good development property,” Deakle said, adding that the condition of the facility itself is more than acceptable. “The building’s in great shape. Hickory Hill did an excellent job of cleaning it up when they took everything out. There is some minor work that needs to be done to make the building more marketable … There’s just some general aesthetic work that needs to be done.”
Deakle said he hopes to have the building on the market by the end of next week.
Although Deakle asserts that a tough economic climate may make selling the property — or any property — a challenge, the building and adjoining land could be adaptable by a variety of potential businesses.
“It would be an excellent property for someone related to our new container-on-barge business,” Deakle said, referencing a recent business expansion to the county’s port. “It would also be great for a manufacturing company.”
The former home of Hickory Hill and its parking lot sit on approximately 19 acres of the 40 acre lot, which connects to both Spring Street and Access Road, which is a boon for the marketability of the space.
The county and city have been negotiating the purchase of the building since Hickory Hill first closed its doors mid-2008. The original plan was to purchase both the company and its assets for approximately $2 million, saving most of the plant’s 250 jobs. Inevitably, Hickory Hill’s parent company folded, leaving the two governments to renegotiate the purchase of the property itself.
According to Fulton Mayor Paul Walker, the purchase of the building and surrounding land is certainly a sound business decision, one that will help both the city and county grow.
“We think this is going to be a beneficial project for both the county and city,” he said. “We look forward to filling that space with a new tenant just as soon as the economy picks back up again.”
Deakle asserted that owning the building puts the city and county in better bargaining positions when negotiating with interested parties.
“It’s one thing to be able to market a building owned by other people; you don’t have any control over the price,” Deakle said. “It’s a whole other world when you can sit down at the table and balance the number of jobs versus your initial investment in the building.”

Adam Armour can be reached at 862-3141, by e-mailing adam.armour@itawamba360.com or by visiting his blog at itawamba360.com.