Danville considers study on how to ease drainage problems at industrial area

DANVILLE — Aldermen on Tuesday will consider spending $20,000 on a study to find a solution to drainage problems that affect a potential economic development property, the former Heatcraft plant in Danville.

The 345,000-square-foot industrial facility at 1625 E. Voorhees St. housed Heatcraft, a refrigeration products manufacturer, until the company consolidated operations in Georgia about four years ago. Heatcraft Refrigeration Products Inc. employed 46 salaried workers at its Danville plant and 268 hourly workers.

Since Heatcraft's closing, the facility has been vacant, and local officials believe its potential for new development would improve if some long-term drainage problems in the area were solved.

The facility is listed on Vermilion Advantage's list of available industrial properties on its website for $1.6 million or for lease. And as of last year, the property is in a new tax increment financing district that the city created along that section of East Voorhees Street that includes several industrial properties.

According to city administration officials, when nearby Koehn Creek floods, water flows onto the former Heatcraft property, causing problems. City administration officials said when Heatcraft was still operating, sets of doors at one section of the facility were opened to actually let the excess water flow through.

Historically, flooding on Voorhees Street and Koehn Creek have caused flooding issues in the residential neighborhood south of Voorhees.

Chris Milliken, planning and zoning manager with the city, told aldermen on the city council's public services committee that the crux of the problem is north of Voorhees and has developed through the years as more development occurred without water retention.

City administration officials are proposing that the money to pay a private firm to do the study should be taken from the city's Community Development Block Grant funds, which is federal money given to the city each year that can be spent in various ways, including economic development. The city is asking the council to amend this year's plan and take $20,000 of the $80,000 allotted for economic development and put it toward this study, which will determine the best solution to solve the flooding issues.

The council's public services committee approved last week putting the money toward this study, and now the full council will vote on it at its meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the municipal building, 17 W. Main St., Danville.

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