OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Dayton Tire plant appears destined for a new life as an industrial park.
Nashville, Tenn.-based Bridgestone/Firestone closed the tire plant a year ago, leaving 1,700 workers unemployed. Workers at the plant made 13-, 14- and 15-inch tires for cars and light trucks at a time when 16-inch tires have become a more popular size.
Big Industrial LLC, a Kansas City company that specializes in retrofitting old factories, is purchasing the plant and preparing to spend millions to turn it into an industrial park.
Company officials said Wednesday the Dayton Tire plant is an attractive candidate because of its proximity to Interstate 35, Interstate 40 and Will Rogers World Airport, on-site connections to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, and an on-site cogeneration, natural gas fired power plant owned by PowerSmith.
''We look for opportunities,'' said Todd Mendon, marketing manager with Big Industrial. ''We like what we see in respect to activity, not just in the industrial market, but in the growth with Bricktown and the momentum that Oklahoma City appears to have. It's reasonably close to our home office in Kansas City, and it's a redevelopment project.''
Mendon said Bridgestone/Firestone will spend the next couple months removing the last of its equipment. Big Industrial, meanwhile, is finalizing plans for renovations that will include new roofing, facade changes, added docks, and a reconfiguration of the space to allow for tenants to use 25,000 to 2.5 million square feet of space.
''We have a plan that would add a lot of additional loading docks,'' Mendon said. ''We know where we can do it, how we can do it, and how quickly we can do it.''
Mendon said the company is already in talks with potential tenants, and has hired Ben Schmidt, who has been an office specialist for three years with NAI Sullivan Group, as a leasing manager for the rechristened Will Rogers Industrial Park.
''I'm anticipating a lot of interest from the local industrial market,'' Schmidt said. ''This facility has had a long standing presence in this community. It's going to be very exciting.''
Robin Roberts, executive vice president over economic development at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, welcomed the pending sale and promised improvements.
Mendon declined to release the sale price.