Milwaukee-based Phoenix Investors has announced the acquisition of the two buildings that housed the Maytag facility in Galesburg. Phoenix is a commercial real estate firm.
“As we continue to expand our presence in Illinois and throughout the United States, Phoenix plans on renovating all three properties (the company also acquired a site in Decatur) in the immediate future,” said David Marks, Phoenix President and CEO, in a news release.
That sounds good to Ken Springer, President of the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development.
“For us, that’s the big thing as a community. By making some investment in the property, it’s going to get the vacant building up to a higher standard where I think we’re going to have a much better time as a community finding an eventual user for the property,” he said.
Springer said one of the former Maytag buildings is vacant, though BNSF is using its parking lot to store wind turbine components. He said the vacant building currently has no power, which makes it difficult to market.
He said the other building is being used as a distribution center by a couple companies, including Blick Art Materials.
The Galesburg Maytag plant produced its last refrigerator in 2004. The factory's jobs were moved to Mexico in September of that year.
Springer said he won’t fully celebrate until the vacant building has tenants, but he feels it’s well past time for the national narrative to move beyond the community’s ties to Maytag.
“We are past that, in a large sense, as a community. We’re finding new industries to invest in. We’re seeing new employers. We’re seeing existing employers expand and create job opportunities,” Springer said.
“The history of Galesburg didn’t stop with the Maytag closure. And for those that are curious, come take a look at our community. There have been a lot of really cool things that have happened since then.”
And he points out that he’s been in town for only about five years so he has no memory of what the town was like when the Maytag plant was open.
“All I can look at is what we do from this point forward, and that’s what we’re focused on.”