Cooper demolition continues

The distinctive towers of the Cooper Tire and Rubber Plant on Sylvester Road sit partially demolished Thursday afternoon.

The distinctive towers of the Cooper Tire and Rubber Plant on Sylvester Road sit partially demolished Thursday afternoon.

ALBANY, Ga. -- Even as demolition crews continue to level massive sections of the former Cooper Tire and Rubber Plant, tax records show the company has one of the largest inventories of produced goods in Dougherty County.

Hilco Realty, the Indiana-based company that bought the Cooper site last year, didn't return phone calls seeking comment on the progress of the demolition or the future plans for the former tire plant, but work crews have demolished much of the 2 million-square-foot facility.

Records from the Dougherty County Tax office show that, as of April 16, Cooper reported having more than $27.9 million in total inventory at the plant.

Of that number, Cooper was able to get a freeport tax exemption for $24.8 million, leaving slightly more than $3 million taxable.

Dougherty Tax Director Denver Hooten said the Freeport tax exemption gives manufacturers 100 percent exemption for items manufactured here that are being shipped out of state, or finished goods held in the state for more than 12 months.

"The voters decided a long time ago to grant that 100 percent exemption for those kinds of items, so, for Cooper, that would largely mean the tires," Hooten said.

Two years after closing, Cooper still leaves a significant tax imprint on its manufactured goods.

That $3 million taxable inventory figure is topped only by Mars Chocolate at $3.3 million and MillerCoors at $4.3 million.

In 2008, the company announced it would be closing the majority of the plant -- sending 1,300 people to the unemployment line and setting a new low-water mark in the area's struggling unemployment and poverty situation at the time.

And while some former Cooper employees remain at the site, most were officially laid off by 2010.

Hilco took the site over in October of 2011 and announced it would be doing some demolition on the site, but officials with the company also said they were keeping Cooper on as a tenant at part of the site and would be looking for tenants for the remaining parts.

"We did purchase that facility and intend to keep Cooper on as a tenant in a portion of the building for the foreseeable future," Ray Kaye, executive vice president of Hilco, said in October 2011. "In addition, we're looking for one or more tenants to occupy most of the remaining building."