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Whitaker Park redevelopment project reaches Brownfields certification stage

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The Whitaker Park Development Authority has received a Brownfields certification, which allows the developer to receive state tax credits to help offset the cost of cleaning up property containing contaminants.

The largest land tracts still available at Whitaker Park are being prepped for a key transition.

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality has posted a legal notice of a Brownfields request by Whitaker Park Development Authority Inc.

The nonprofit WPDA was created by Winston-Salem Business Inc., the Winston-Salem Alliance and Wake Forest University for the sole purpose of shocking a heartbeat back into the former tobacco manufacturing campus.

DEQ provides permission to redevelop a Brownfields property containing 36.32 acres overall.

Properties involved are 3330 Shorefair Drive and 4021 and 4035 Reynolds Blvd. on the former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. manufacturing plant campus.

The notice said there are contaminants in the soil and groundwater at the sites.

A Brownfields certification enables the developer to receive state tax credits to help offset the cost of cleaning up and developing property containing contaminants.

A 30-day public comment period began Friday. DEQ could hold a hearing on the request if warranted by public comment.

The 3330 Shorefair property has been sold, according to the WPDA website. The 38.7-acre tract contains a 65,375-square-foot building known as 605-11.

The 4021 Reynolds Court property is listed as sale pending. The 6.7-acre tract contains an 82,234-square-foot building known as 605-12.

The 4035 Reynolds Court property contains 8.85 acres and an 82,000-square-foot building.

Bob Leak Jr., president and chief executive of WPDA, said Brennan Investment Group of Chicago has the site under contract. Leak said Brennan is considering building up to 130,000 more square feet adjacent to the facility.

WPDA said in the notice that the redeveloped properties would be limited to the following uses: industrial; community service organization; adult recreation facility; research laboratory incubator space; warehouse; office; parking; and other commercial uses permitted by the department.

Leak said Friday the entire Whitaker Park campus has been placed in the Brownfields program.”

“This will protect future tenants in the event an environmental issue is ever found,” Leak said. “Fortunately, there are no known issues with the property.”

Leak said once the Brownfields redevelopment approval has been granted, the 4021 Reynolds property should proceed to sale.

In 2018, WPDA gained Brownfields approval for the two main production buildings on the campus: 601-1 and 601-11. They sit on 56.11 acres off 1001 Reynolds Blvd.

Cook Medical bought Building 601-1, which contains 850,000 square feet, in 2019.

Cook plans to move its local workforce of 650 to the facility, as well as pledging to add 50 jobs over 10 years.

Tamisha Clark, Cook Medical’s local general manager, said in August that the company that “while COVID-19 has impacted our timeline, we have continued architectural planning for our future move and look forward to publishing our new construction timeline post-COVID.”

In August, Nature’s Value, based in Coram, N.Y., paid $10.5 million for the 426,800-square-foot 601-11 building, where it plan to relocated its headquarters and consolidate production beginning in the first half of 2023.

Nature’s Value has pledged to create more than 183 new jobs along with relocating 50 jobs from Lexington and putting $19 million toward investments including advanced manufacturing and testing equipment.

Meanwhile, residential renovation work for Whitaker Park Lofts is under way on the historic Buildings 2-1 and 2-2 by developer Chris Harrison. The plan is creating 164 residential units.

COVID-19, however, has delayed plans for new construction that is expected to include new-construction plans for: 25,000-square-feet of retail space; a 125-room hotel expected to attract visitors to Wake Forest University, in particular visiting athletic teams; and another 150 residential units.

Harrison projects an overall capital investment of between $80 million and $100 million.

Second Harvest has opted for a start-from-scratch approach to its new 140,000-square-foot facility that is projected to be begin operations by fall 2022. The project represents a planned $10 million investment.

Second Harvest said the new building will make food receiving and distribution more efficient and make it possible to lift limitations now in place on accepting fresh food. Storage capacity for such items will double.




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