The city council in Athens, Georgia, moved a step closer to finding a new purpose for the site of the former Pilgrim’s Pride poultry plant on Pryor Street in Athens.

By a 3-2 decision, the council voted to hire a design firm to draw up plans for the land that could include a multi-use park, reported WHNT. Other potential uses for the land – or portions of it -- were also suggested, such as apartments or potential new businesses.

The poultry plant had not been in use for nearly 10 years. Pilgrim’s Pride closed the plant, as well as another facility in Athens, Alabama, in 2010.

According to council member Harold Wales, the “big, old metal building” had been “such an eyesore for years.” The plant has been demolished and the remains were hauled away. The cost to remove the former plant exceeded $1 million.

The consulting firm, Farmer Morgan, was hired by the city for $130,000. Part of the firm’s responsibilities will be collecting input from the community.

Wales added the City of Athens will “work on grants and talk to private investors.”

Pilgrim’s Pride’s decision to close the plant came as it emerged from bankruptcy. The company had declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2008. About one year later, JBS USA acquired 64% of the company’s stock. According to the WATTAgNet Top Poultry Companies Database, JBS now owns 78.5% of Pilgrim’s Pride stock.

Pilgrim’s Pride is currently the second largest poultry company in the United States, having processed 156.02 million pounds of ready-to-cook chicken on a weekly basis in 2018.

Within the past five years, Pilgrim’s Pride has acquired U.S.-based GNP Company, Tyson de Mexico, and Nothern Ireland-based Moy Park.

JBS, which is headquartered in Brazil, is the world’s largest poultry company. It slaughters 3.5 billion broiler chickens annually.