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Plans Announced For Former Fort Smith Whirlpool Manufacturing Facility

FORT SMITH (KFSM)- Phoenix Investors, a Wisconsin-based commercial real estate firm is now the new owner of the former Whirpool manufacturing facility with hopes of revitalizing the building and creating quality jobs for Arkansans.

"They're a proven company with a long track record of buying big boxes like this," Tim Allen, president of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce said.

"This was one of the facilities that obviously Whirlpool is no longer using and was looking to sell to a company that would redevelop it," David Marks, President and CEO of Phoenix Investors said.

Phoenix Investors is taking that challenge and Marks said you'll see the changes in the coming months.

"Over the first few months, we're going to be renovating this building in phases," Marks said. "So as parts of the facility are available for leasing, we hope to lease the building over the two year time frame."

City leaders and those with Phoenix Investors said Fort Smith residents and surrounding areas have quite a bit to took forward to with the 1.5 million square feet facility.

"In the near term, [residents] can expect to see this building being transformed from a manufacturing facility to a facility that can accommodate many uses whether it's manufacturing or distribution," Marks said.

The real estate firm says the building can be developed to fit several companies or can be leased as a whole.

Those changes will create jobs, adding to the rich history of manufacturing in Fort Smith.

"The jobs that we're focusing on are 21st Century manufacturing jobs," Allen said. "So, the days of the hard labor and the low wage jobs, they're still important, but not a main focus. We're focusing on high-tech jobs and high-paying jobs and that's what this facility brings to the community."

The Whirlpool building has been on the market since 2012 when the company discontinued production.

Phoenix Investors carries a portfolio with a spread across 22 states.