An abandoned sock factory in rural Brown County won’t be the boon for residents many local leaders hoped.
Business turnaround expert Evan Werling presented a report to the county commissioners this week showing there is virtually no way the county can break even on the property without a substantial risk to taxpayers.
“Converting the facilities to other uses would end up requiring the taxpayers to put in millions of dollars to restructure the facility with absolutely no guarantees that they would ever get their money back,” he says.
As part of his study, Werling showed the property to nearly a dozen industrial developers. He also looked into ideas residents had for the property, such as turning it into a community sports complex. He says the property lacks even basic utility services.
“There is just not enough water pressure available to do any kind of industrial manufacturing at that site, which is a very limiting factor,” he says. “There is also no natural gas out there.”
The commissioners will now auction the property to the highest bidder, as every year it sits costs the county about $15,000 in insurance.
Werling says a local real estate expert put the property’s value at around $150,000, much less than its nearly $3-million assessed value when it was a working factory.
After fire destroyed part of the factory in 2011, For Bare Feet moved its operations to Martinsville and donated the old site to the Brown County commissioners.