The Elmore County Economic Development Authority, with assistance from other local leaders, recently helped facilitate the sale of commercial property to a Wisconsin-based real estate firm.

An affiliate of Phoenix Investors, a national private commercial real estate firm headquartered in Milwaukee, acquired the former Russell Brands, LLC property located at 3145 Elmore Road in Wetumpka.

Russell Brands previously manufactured sports equipment and clothing, marketing its products under many brands and subsidiaries, including Russell Athletic and Spalding. Formerly a publicly traded company, Russell Brands was acquired by Fruit of the Loom, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, in 2006. Russell Brands closed its plant in Wetumpka in 2013.

The property is a Class A industrial facility totaling about 891,000 square feet on 102 acres of land.

Phoenix Investors cited the plant’s ideal location, its proximity to Montgomery and interstates 65 and 85, among its reasons for purchasing the facility.

“Elmore County has no inventory or occupational taxes, boasting a strong workforce and supported by 12 local colleges and universities,” states a release from the firm. “Built between 1995 and 1997, the infrastructure of the property is robust with clear heights up to 41 feet, 29 loading docks, 100 slots for trailer storage, over 500 passenger parking spots, five drive-in doors and adjacent land ready for expansion. Additionally, the property includes three separate entrances with ample bathrooms and adequate office space to accommodate multiple tenants. A minimum footprint of 75,000 square feet can be demised for a single user."

Frank P. Crivello, chairman and founder of Phoenix Investors, noted that the plant is less than 25 years old and that the “construction was of excellent quality.” He said Phoenix Investors will make strategic improvements to the buildings and systems to increase its “energy efficiency and desirability to prospective tenants.”

"First, we would like to thank Russell Corporation for their past support and maintaining the building and grounds in great condition,” said Cary Cox, executive director of ECEDA. “This immense property fits a certain niche as most companies cannot utilize a building of this size. Phoenix Investors' willingness to lease portions of the building is a game changer. We have tenants that are interested and hopefully will have some announcements soon."

Cox said other elected officials including Elmore County District 4 Commissioner Bart Mercer and Mayor Jerry Willis worked with him to repurpose and infuse this real estate and infrastructure back into the economy of Elmore County.  

Mercer, who serves as county’s liaison to ECEDA, said Phoenix Investors’ business model is a perfect fit to create a successful solution for this property.

“It's an honor to welcome such a prestigious partner to Elmore County," Mercer said.

District 5 Commissioner Desirae Lewis also expressed her excitement about the acquisition. 

“This purchase will help bring jobs to Wetumpka and the surrounding area that have been missing since 2013,” she said.  “This is an economic boost and a major step towards future development on the Highway 14 corridor.”

Commission Chairman Troy Stubbs, echoed the comments of his fellow Commission member.

"ECEDA has done a tremendous job to help find an investor for this property whose business model will lead to a diversified approach to best utilize the property,” he said. “We are excited to have Phoenix Investors join our community.”

Willis welcomed Phoenix Investors to the Wetumpka and said he looks forward to “many prosperous years to come.”