Reuse efforts at the former Newport Chemical Depot are well underway despite the three-year wait planning officials in west central Indiana were forced to endure until the destruction of the nerve agent VX stored there was completed in 2008.
DOD did not give the community the green light to start planning for the facility’s redevelopment until later that year, but since then the local redevelopment authority has moved quickly to recover from the loss of 690 jobs and $40 million in annual purchasing after the facility closed.
The Newport Chemical Depot Reuse Authority’s initial success was the rapid transfer of property from the Army. In a little over a year after the depot was formally decommissioned in 2010, the authority obtained almost the entire 7,000-acre property. Working closely with the community, the LRA crafted a reuse plan balancing large-scale industrial and commercial uses, while retaining much of the surrounding natural environment. The plan calls for a near-50/50 split between natural and built areas, with abundant parkland, natural and open spaces, agriculture and forestry encircling areas designated for business and technology, conference and support facilities, and highway-oriented commercial development.
In October 2011, the site was rechristened the Vermillion Rise Mega Park, and officials began marketing the property to prospective tenants. The LRA plans on taking advantage of the site’s outstanding geographic and human resources assets. The 11-square-mile area in the heart of America has operating utilities and an abundant water supply, and is located within a mile of a rail line and minutes from two major interstates. In addition, the project is close to several institutions of higher learning and can draw from a highly-skilled workforce.
The Newport Chemical Depot Reuse Authority has put in place a reuse plan that along with its commitment to upgrading the property’s infrastructure provides Vermillion County excellent prospects for a rapid rebound from the loss of a cornerstone of the local economy.
For serving as a national model in assessing and addressing regional economic needs following installation realignment or closure, the reuse authority has been named ADC’s 2013 Base Redevelopment Project of the Year. The reuse authority and other award winners will be recognized at a special ceremony on Capitol Hill Thursday during the Defense Communities National Summit.