Archive for Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Farmland auction set for October

Sale won’t include plant’s 467 acres of property

August 5, 2003


There will be an auction in late October at the closed Farmland Industries fertilizer plant east of Lawrence, but it won't determine a new owner for the 467-acre piece of property.

Farmland officials said they would have an auction Oct. 23-25 at the property to dispose of the plant's warehouse inventory, which includes a variety of nuts, bolts, valves, office furniture and vehicles.

The bankrupt Kansas City, Mo.-based cooperative won't be taking bids on the land or the plant's main equipment, which includes pieces of the facility's ammonia, urea and nitric acid plants.

But Kevan Vick, general manager for Farmland's nitrogen manufacturing division, said the company should be much closer to finding a buyer for the land and remaining equipment by late October.

"We would hope to have a pretty clear understanding of people's interests by that October time frame," Vick said.

He said the company was talking to "several interested parties" about purchasing the land and/or equipment.

He said discussion had not started with groups interested in buying only the land, which is thought to have potential as an industrial area for the city since it is located along Kansas Highway 10 and adjacent to the East Hills Business Park.

Vick said if a deal is struck to sell all the equipment, the company would then begin talking to people interested in buying only the land.

He said no one had expressed interest in buying the plant to resume fertilizer operations. Farmland earlier this year reached a deal to sell four fertilizer facilities to Wichita-based Koch Nitrogen. But Koch officials declined to purchase the Lawrence facility, which was Farmland's oldest fertilizer plant and has been shut down since May 2001.

The property also has environmental issues. State officials have required Farmland to begin several cleanup projects designed to address past spills of nitrate and chromium at the site. Some of those projects will require monitoring by the company or the property's new owner for up to 30 years.

Vick said Farmland officials were being very clear with potential buyers about all the obligations that would come with purchasing the property.

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