Icahn’s company plotting move from coveted riverbank property

PSC Metals in talks with Metro and state officials

AUTHOR Stephen Elliott  |  Nashville Post

PSC Metals File/Eric England

New Mayor David Briley is the latest in a long line of Metro executives seeking to get rid of the Carl Icahn-owned metal-recycling company on a Cumberland River property coveted for redevelopment.

According to emails obtained in a public records request, PSC Metals officials are considering moving their local operations elsewhere in Davidson County and bringing their Ohio headquarters to Nashville. Company representatives have been in talks with state and Metro real estate and economic development officials during recent months.

The sites mentioned for possible relocation include a Ford Motors-owned property on Centennial Boulevard, a state-owned former prison site and a property currently home to a Goodwill operation and owned by local commercial real estate industry official Bill Hawkins.

Amid a legal dispute over lease rates for its metal recycling facility, PSC Metals bought the rest of the property it did not already own in October, a move that spurred Metro Councilmember Brett Withers, whose district includes the facility, to conclude that PSC would “be there for the long haul.”

But as late as April, PSC representatives were discussing relocation sites with Metro officials. Benchmark Realty broker Brian Taylor wrote in an April 16 email to Metro Chief Operating Officer Rick Riebeling that he was working with PSC on site selection and that the company had identified the Ford and Goodwill sites. Hawkins on Friday told the Posthe had no knowledge of any PSC interest in one of his properties.

Taylor requested and was granted a phone call with Riebeling to discuss “how we might best approach Ford.” The broker could not be reached for further comment.

The week before, Metro Director of Public Property Steve Berry wrote to state of Tennessee real estate official Bruce Nelson and Metro Economic and Community Development Director Matt Wiltshire to say that PSC Metals, headquartered in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, “wants to relocate to Nashville with jobs.”

“They have expressed interest in the prison site with a need for 20-30 acres,” Berry continued. “Their CFO and real estate guy are flying in. If the state is interested — sure State ECD is — can they gain entry tomorrow or Wednesday?”

Tennessee Department of General Services spokesperson David Roberson told the Postthat there has been talk over the years about selling some area prisons, but no action has been taken and no sites are currently for sale or proposed for sale. (The state sold the former Charles Bass Correctional Complex in Cockrill Bend last year.)

PSC Metals representatives could not be reached for comment.

Former Mayor Megan Barry was particularly critical of PSC Metals, which sits on a triangle of land located near downtown and Nissan Stadium bordered by Korean Veterans Boulevard, the Cumberland River and I-24. She called the scrapyard an “eyesore,” and asked, “How can we make that thing go away?”

Mayors Karl Dean and Bill Purcell also sought to relocate PSC Metals, with a plan under Purcell to move the operations to a site located in Cockrill Bend. Those efforts ultimately fell apart. During the last few months of the Barry administration, an environmental improvement plan listed “a visioning process that includes a large downtown park during any potential redevelopment of the current PSC Metals site” as a goal eyed for 2021-23.

The east bank property has been home to scrap-metal recycling since the 1950s and was a city dump before that. The cost to relocate PSC’s operations and clean up the property would be significant, and the process could take years.

Despite ongoing negotiations about the PSC Metals property during the months since its ownership consolidation, Mayor David Briley’s office said this week there’s no news.

“There have been many discussions about the site over the years, and there are always conversations,” Briley spokesperson Judith Byrd told the Post. “However, there is nothing related to PSC Metals to announce at this time.”

Withers, who represents the PSC Metals site and the nearby Cayce Homes public housing property, also said he didn’t have any specific information about an impending sale, though he said the mayor’s office had told him there may be some opportunities in the works.

“That is an area where I really am hoping to get some development,” Withers said. “Any kind of job opportunities that I can bring to that area is something that I want to look at, particularly as it pertains to Cayce residents.”

But, he added, the Metro Council should be wary of any economic incentive deal for the PSC move.

“The public is communicating to the council that right now with our budget crunch, they’re wanting us to be extra skeptical about incentives, so I take that to heart,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to incentivize something just because that site is ugly.”

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