The final portion of the old Brown Shoe factory is currently being torn down in preparation for a possible land swap between the Steelville School District and Steelville Manufacturing. Under the plan, the school would get the old shoe factory property and Steelville Manufacturing would get the school’s bus shed adjacent to its manufacturing facility. The Steelville IDA?is planning to contribute $100,000 to help close the deal.
A public hearing was held prior to Monday night’s Steelville City Council meeting to review a proposal being made by the Steelville Industrial Development Authority to use $100,000 of its money to facility a land swap involving the Steelville School District and Steelville Manufacturing. In the deal, the school district would get the old Brown Shoe property and the factory would get the district’s bus shed.
There was no public comment during Monday’s hearing, but IDA President Kem Schwieder and Steelville Manufacturing President Dennis Bell were on hand to explain the proposal. They also answered several questions posed by council members.
Schweider explained that the IDA has not used any of its money, approximately $320,000 for years, and that it was approached by Bell to use $100,000 to facility a future expansion at Steelville Manufacturing. Under the proposal, Bell would trade the former Brown Shoe lot, which he owns and is adjacent to the middle and elementary schools, for the school’s bus shed, which is adjacent to Steelville Manufacturing.
The value of the Brown Shoe lot is estimated to be approximately $100,000 more than the bus shed property, which led to the suggestion that the IDA contribute that amount to facilitate the land swap in hopes of allowing for a future industrial expansion. At this time, the school does not have any additional funds to pay for the old factory site and the school board has not officially voted to approve the proposed land trade.
“Eventually, the goal is for the Bells to have the bus garage for an expansion and the school will end up with a good, clean piece of property for the future,” said Schwieder.
Bell told the council that any future expansion of Steelville Manufacturing was still two or three years away, but having the bus shed property was a key part of any future growth. He said the school district would be allowed continued use of the bus shed until such time as the expansion takes place.
Schwieder told council members that all of the IDA’s money was either earned (some of it from a previous sale of the old Brown Shoe site) or received as donations. There are no federal, state or city funds under the IDA’s control, which means they can spend the money as they see fit, but he felt it was important to hold a public hearing and let area residents know what is being considered.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Becky Lakaner contributed to this story.