Jacksonville eyes development deal at old Kerr-McGee Superfund site

After sitting idle more than 40 years, a badly polluted part of Jacksonville’s Talleyrand waterfront could become a working dock again once a long-awaited cleanup is finished.

The former site of a Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp. factory and warehouse has become the subject of a development agreement city officials are pursuing to reopen the property at 1611 Talleyrand Ave.

The agreement, which could be introduced to Jacksonville’s City Council Aug. 10, would offer CertainTeed Gypsum Operating Co. LLC up to $3.4 million in property-tax breaks if it invests at least $55 million and creates at least 20 jobs by the end of 2024.

The agreement “seems like a pretty good deal,” city Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes said before the Mayor’s Budget Review Committee signed off last week.

There’s no guarantee that CertainTeed will take the deal if it’s offered. The company is considering other Southern port cities, too, but nowhere else in Florida, the city’s economic development head, Kirk Wendland, told Hughes in a July 21 memo.

The former Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp. property at 1611 Talleyrand Ave. is a federal Superfund site scheduled for environmental cleanup. Jacksonville officials are considering a development agreement with CertainTeed Gypsum Operating Company, LLC to make the place a cross-dock site for moving material by water and by truck.

If the deal goes through, CertainTeed, which makes building products and owns a wallboard plant in Palatka, projects hiring 32 people to work full-time as dockworkers and truck drivers for a “cross-dock” operation that would receive bulk materials by ship and forward them by truck.

But that operation can only happen after environmental cleanup work that was once projected to cost $69 million is completed.

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