From The Anniston Star. Originally printed July 22nd, 2015. Click here for the original story.
“Several old, decaying barracks at McClellan received a new lease on life Wednesday.
During its meeting the McClellan Development Authority, which oversees the former fort, agreed to lease a complex of barracks known as “starships” for $5,000 a month to a Birmingham-based security training firm. McClellan officials say the deal will stimulate the economy by bringing new people to the area, while saving facilities that have remained unused for years.
The deal is a one-year leasing agreement with Xtreme Concepts Inc., with an option to later buy the starships site for $2.8 million. The deal includes the use of eight buildings and 112 acres of property. Xtreme is a private security firm.
A Wednesday press release from Xtreme states the company plans to use the site to train personnel from local law enforcement and U.S. government agencies. The company also plans to spend up to $2 million to restore several of the buildings, the press release states.
“After the mold remediation, damage and restoration is completed, this once dormant property will be transformed into a safe place for training and an outstanding business,” Landon Ash, president and CEO of Xtreme, was quoted as saying in the press release.
Ash is also a member of Alabama’s Homeland Security Advisory Task Force and a member of the family that founded the Golden Flake snack food company.
Xtreme plans to hire local businesses to do the repair work and install a fence around the property to control access and promote safety.
“Our goal is to be a good neighbor and to have a positive impact on the communities where we do business,” Ash said.
Phil Webb, chairman of the MDA board, said the deal will be an economic boon for the area not just from the renovation work, but because of the many people who will come for training.
“We’ll have people staying here, spending money — that’s economic development,” Webb said.
Webb said the deal also solves the problem of the starships themselves.
“They’re going to invest a lot of money into this property that we’ve been trying to decide what the heck to do with,” Webb said.
The buildings, more than 35 years old and periodically the target of vandalism, have sat vacant since the fort closed in 1999. FEMA renovated two of the buildings in 2005 to temporarily house people displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Those people never arrived at the site, though, and the buildings have been decaying and unused ever since.
Webb said simply demolishing the barracks, as the MDA has done to many other buildings at the former fort in recent years, was not a good option because of the expense.
“It would cost us $3 million to $5 million to tear them down and haul everything away,” Webb said. “Then we’d be left with just land — well, we’ve already got a lot of land.”
Also during the meeting, the board agreed to sell 6.7 acres and a building near the Cane Creek Golf Course for $230,000 to AMK9, a company that’s already at McClellan and trains dogs for government and law enforcement agencies.
Attempts to reach AMK9 for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.
Robin Scott, executive director of the MDA, said the company plans to use the property as a new dog training site to comply with a new federal program.
“This facility will meet the new requirements,” Scott said.”
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.