Daikin expanding; construction progresses for beer brewer

Jul 11, 2017

From The Decatur Daily
by Evan Belanger

Daikin North America is in the midst of an expansion at its plant on State Docks Road.

Meanwhile, the city’s first beer brewer has acquired its building permit, clearing it to begin the major tasks of refurbishing a 117-year-old building on First Avenue Southeast.

Decatur Building Department records show Daikin expects to spend $205,462 expanding an area of the plant involved in the reclamation of chemicals used in the manufacture of surgical anesthetics.

Daikin launched that product line in 2012 as part of a $75 million expansion that included a variety of new facilities.

Spokesman Forrest Keith said the chemical, octafluoroisobutyl methyl ether, or OIME, is a byproduct of other processes at the plant.

Daikin was incinerating it before company officials decided to start selling it in 2012. It is now used by Daikin customers to make surgical anesthetics used in operating rooms around the world, he said.

“Now that waste stream has become a product stream,” Keith said.

Since 2012, the OIME production area, which shares space with the plant’s steam-producing and waste-treating utilities area, has grown, necessitating the expansion, according to Keith.

Currently, four people are involved in the OIME operation, he said.

The expansion will upgrade the building, expand an office area, refurbish and expand a laboratory, as well as a control room and other facilities, Keith said.

The expansion, which is slated for completion in October, is not expected to add jobs.

Morgan County Commission Chairman Ray Long said even minor investments are important, because they help preserve the existing jobs at the more than 375-employee plant — more than 400, including contractors.

“It’s just another source of knowing they’re going to be here,” he said. “They’re still investing, so they’re not looking to leave.”

The project does not qualify for tax abatements. Jeremy Nails, president of the Morgan County Economic Development Association, said major-addition expansions must be at least $2 million or 30 percent of the original cost of the existing property to be considered for tax abatements.

In other construction news, the city of Decatur has issued a building permit for the renovation of 105 First Ave. S.E., which is slated to be the home of the Cross Eyed Owl Brewing Co., Decatur’s first beer brewery.

Demolition has been ongoing at the 13,500-square-foot building, which was built in 1900, for more than five weeks.

“Now that we have our building permits, we’re starting to put things back together, which we all know takes a little longer,” business owner Trey Atwood said.

Atwood expects to open the brewery early next year. City records to date show the projected cost of construction at $572,000.

Atwood said that does not include his brewing equipment and that a portion of the construction costs will be paid by the property’s owner, who has agreed to bring the building up to standard commercial specifications.

Tax records show the property belongs to Renew Properties LLC. Astrid McIntosh is listed as the principal owner of that company.

Atwood, an Athens resident, is a homebrewer and has given out samples of his beer at local chapter meetings of Free The Hops and other events. His beer is not currently available for sale at any locations.