Coral company eyes old landfill site for new headquarters | News

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Coral company eyes old landfill site for new headquarters
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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- At the southern tip of St. Augustine, right at the end of Riberia Street, sits an old landfill that has been reclaimed.

The city-owned property sits on the Intra-Coastal Waterway with the 312 Bridge in sight.

St. Augustine City Manager John Regan has hopes for this land. Some have not come to fruition, but he hasn't stopped trying to turn this land into more than a barren piece of earth.

"We now have about 11 acres of reclaimed property that can be put back into public service," Regan said Tuesday.

He believes it's prime for public parks and clean, sustainable businesses.

"We can create revenue for the city and jobs for people," he added.

Now, one company is eyeing the property and hopes to close a deal in a couple of months.

A company called Applied Coral Technologies - or A.C.T. - wants to lease four of the 11 acres from the City of St. Augustine. In large tanks, A.C.T. would grow its coral for sale and it would create a tourist attraction.

Arthur Barr is the Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for A.C.T.

He told First Coast News, "The location works for us because we're next to the Intra-Coastal Waterway for the inflow of seawater, and we're next to the waste water treatment plant for the disposal of our waste."

Barr expects the facility - which would also be the company's headquarters - could create 40  jobs. If all goes well with permitting from the state and approval from the City of St. Augustine, Barr says he could open the business by spring 2014.

He doesn't mind that the land is a landfill that closed in the 1970's.

"It's not a landfill with methane gas pipes coming out of the ground. It appears to be dormant," Barr continued, "We will protect our habitats by having a liner under them to keep any gases that do come out, to escape out of the sides."

Regan says the land is now safe.

"We know it's safe because we monitor the property," Regan explained. "We put control systems in that are accepted in the industry to make sure it's safe. Building on reclaimed landfills is actually very, very common."

Regan said two feet of sand covers the landfill.  Reclaimed water used on the sand has sprouted grass. And concrete chunks from the torn-down Temporary Bridge of Lions surround the property to protect the marsh.

"As an environmental engineer, for me, this property represents the very best of recycling," Regan noted.

Applied Coral Technologies will have an open house to share its plans and to get input from the community.  The open house will be Wednesday, January 9th at the Willie Galimore Center on Riberia Street from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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