Plans for a makeover at the old Chelsea Grain Elevator

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There are some noticeable changes going on at the old Chelsea Grain Elevator.

Earlier this past week, on June 10, a crew was at the complex at 11800 Dexter-Chelsea Road getting set-up to take down the legs (towers) and catwalks connected to the big storage bins. Once these are taken down, another crew is expected to come in to take the bins.

The Sun Times News reached out to Nathan Dawson, owner of the old Chelsea Grain complex, to get an update on the site, which closed down a couple of years ago. It was listed for sale, but Dawson said they are keeping options open and are now underway in giving the complex a makeover.

“Basically redeveloping the property,” Dawson said as an update of what he says is phase one.

He said much of the equipment on the site is going to be reused in other operations. One of the big storage bins will be going to Kentucky to be reused.

These are being sold and money from it will go toward paying farmers who are still owed from when the grain elevator was open.

The 15,000 square foot warehouse on the property is still a good building, said Dawson, and he plans to get all of the dust, pests, trucks and rail cars out of there.

Which he said will make, “the warehouse more attractive to local businesses.”

In going back to the main reasons why the grain plant is closed, Dawson said, “The area has more houses and less farmland every year. The plant is too small and labor intensive for big commercial grain companies to have much interest. On the flip side it is too big for any single local farmer.”

He said things have changed and are changing, and it’s led to the adjustments at that complex and the industrial zoned land around it.

“The industrial park is changing over from strict agriculture and industrial to businesses that are closer to the end user,” said Dawson. “We now have a used forklift company and a used pickup body parts company that were not here five years ago. That trend will continue and I wouldn’t be surprised to see retail wanting to go in here at some point.”

He said Dexter and Chelsea are both still growing, and most, if not all, the farmland along the road from grain elevator to Chelsea is for sale at prices that are not affordable for commercial farming, so adjustments need to be made.

Looking ahead when asked if the property is for sale or rent, or both, he said, “I am looking to do what is best as this continues to develop. I don’t want to limit the options.”

He said the cement silos could still be used for commercial or specialty grain handling if the right tenant comes along. Right now they serve as a tower for communications, both rural internet and radio.

“They are over 100 years old and are showing their age,” Dawson said of silos. “I hope to find some creative uses for them in the future. Many small towns paint murals or use them to put on light shows. I have even seen them used for recreational climbing, in the winter for ice climbing.”

If anyone in the community is interested to pose an idea for them, Dawson said contact him fourmileproject@yahoo.com.

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