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June 2012
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Commerce Park comes alive

BY DAVID ZOELLERdzoeller@paducahsun.comSNbS

While its original concept may have changed since it was created in 1992, the former Information Age Park â “ now more commonly referred to as Commerce Park â “ is once again showing signs of life.

According to Chad Chancellor, Paducah Economic Development president/CEO, the park is made up of 600 total acres, 400 of which are in the floodplain. While only one-quarter of the developable 200 acres have been sold, the area west of Paducah is poised for growth, according to Chancellor.

Back in the early '90s, the concept was to offer office-based companies amenities like high-speed internet, Chancellor said. While it is nice to have those type of amenities, they can be found anywhere today. For every 10 or so prospects that consider the park, two may be interested, he said.

"We don't get as many prospects as you would for an industrial park, simply because you don't have things like rail service," Chancellor said. "But I think development will increase with the high school being out there ... in general things are moving in that direction."

In the past five or six years, Chancellor estimates 700-800 jobs have been added at the park, although not all jobs are from new tenants.

TeleTech Holdings recently christened its new state-of-the-art call center with a grand opening ceremony, which included the surprise it will add 150 jobs to its previously announced total of 400 between the Commerce Park location and one in downtown Paducah. System Solutions is planning to expand to a lot adjacent to its present location.

Superior Care Home, Inc. is building a $15 million, 72,000 square-foot neighborhood concept senior living center just inside the U.S. 62 entrance to the park. Construction is scheduled to be completed sometime in November. The new facility will replace Superior Care's present location on Clay Street in Paducah. Seventy-six of the 108 rooms will be private, according to Leigh Ann Renfro, marketing director. The 108 rooms represents a 22 percent increase in bed space.

The present staff of 130 will also be expanded with the larger facility, Renfro said.

The original park plans included development of walking trails or other quality of life features in the acreage in the flood plain, to make use of the land and help sell the park, according to Chancellor.

Plans for a sports complex or other recreational opportunities have also been discussed, Chancellor said. PED, which owns the property, would be willing to make land available for such a use, but there would have to be funding in place for it.

While office-based companies are still prime prospects, Chancellor believes the continued development west of Paducah calls for a mixed-use development strategy at the park.

"There's no reason you couldn't have a sub shop, a gas station, a gym, a cleaners or a day-care facility," Chancellor said. "We've literally added 600-700 people, not to mention people coming to see their family (at the nursing facility)."

All things considered, "I think the park has a bright future," Chancellor said.

Contact David Zoeller, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676.


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