NEW ALBANY — QRS Recycling will be closing its operations at West Floyd Street near the Ohio River next April.
The New Albany business agreed to turn over its 25-to-30-acre property to the city for a Ohio River Greenway park, announced Tuesday along with other city projects.
In return, the city will pay property owner Tim Jansen $2.5 million over 20 years with no interest, according to New Albany Redevelopment Director David Duggins.
"It's an extremely exciting opportunity to bring approximately 40 acres from really a blighted area on probably one of the most beautiful bends on the Ohio River back to something families, individuals and the entire city can enjoy in the next couple years," Duggins said.
QRS opened at that location in 1974, under the name Riverside Recycling. When Jansen sold the business to his sons about a decade ago, it became QRS. The business has another location in Louisville.
Before it was approached by the city, QRS Recycling was contemplating a move, Jansen said.
"One of the problems that we've had that we've thought about is we're in a floodplain, and we need warehouse space. You can't build a warehouse in a floodplain," Jansen said. "We've got a building with no walls. More and more packaging has to be done indoors with specialized equipment."
Jansen, with help from the city, has been looking for another place in New Albany to locate, but hasn't had any luck. He said he isn't too concerned, as he still has a whole year before the property is transferred to the city.
Zoning is a challenge, he added. People want recycling, but he said many don't want it next door.
Is there a chance the business may have to close without relocating?
"Absolutely there's a chance," Jansen said. "Not the end of the world. Businesses close every day, and there's two other recycling plants in New Albany."
If that's the case, QRS' employees — about 9 or 10 — will either be transferred to the Louisville plant or referred by management to other businesses.
"The employees know it ... they know we're on their team," he said. "A couple of them have been there a long time."
However, Jansen doesn't think it will come to that.
QRS has been downsizing its staff for the last several years. In 2015, it transferred its paper and plastics operations to the Louisville plant, resulting in a layoff of 16 employees. The business at one time had 60 employees, Jansen said.
The agreement between Jansen and the city also stipulates that the company will clear the land and demolish any buildings that won't be used for the park.
New Albany plans to hire engineers to design the park, Duggins said. There's a chance some buildings may be preserved and renovated, but none of that is decided yet.
"There might be a really cool concept for one of those buildings to be left up there," he said.
New Albany owns a few properties near the recycling plant. Duggins said Indiana American Water has committed to donating its property to the city. A few other neighboring property owners are talking to city officials about selling their properties, Duggins added.
Together, they would make up about 40 acres of land for the park.
Jansen characterized negotiations with the city as amicable.
"I thought they treated me with class," he said.