Former facility transforming into manufacturing center

Participating in the launching of the Green View Advanced Manufacturing Center Tuesday morning are (from left) Halifax County IDA Assistant Secretary/Treasurer Bill Kelehar, Alexandra Moon of Environmental Consultant Services, IDA Executive Director Mike Sexton, Kaili Hutchison of Environmental Consultant Services, IDA Development Director Patsy Vaughan, IDA board members W. W. “Ted” Bennett, Lisa Kipps-Brown, Butch Blanks, Garland Ricketts, Marcus Hargrave, Halifax Town Manager Carl Espy, ED-3 Supervisor William Fitzgerald, South Boston Mayor Carroll Thackston, Brian Burton of Burton Construction Company, Halifax Mayor Dick Moore, Mac McDannald of McDannald Construction Company, IDA Chairman and Virginia Tobacco Commission member John Cannon, Engineering Consultant Robert Bouknight, County Administrator George Nester, Construction Site Manager Bob Mitchell and ED-8 Supervisor W. Bryant Claiborne. (Paula I. Bryant/Gazette-Virginian)

A ceremonial groundbreaking Tuesday morning launched the transformation of the 438,000 square foot Green View Advanced Manufacturing Center that for the past two decades has sat as a silent reminder of better times.

At a small “launching” ceremony, a group of officials from around the county gathered to christen the relic as the Green View Advanced Manufacturing Center.

“Today the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) takes steps to make it a beacon for the future,” said IDA Executive Director Mike Sexton.

The former Daystrom Furniture Plant on Greens Folly Road began operation in the 1960s and in its heyday employed more than 1,000 workers cranking out chrome-plated furniture for the world, Sexton said in a release prepared for the groundbreaking event.

“It is our hope that today we begin a new chapter for Halifax County, looking forward to bringing manufacturing jobs back to this area that has such a strong tradition of manufacturing. It is exciting to think of this building coming back to life and seeing people going to work here everyday,” Sexton said.

Green View Advanced Manufacturing Center sits on approximately 34 acres and is serviced by all utilities and rail, according to IDA Development Director Patsy Vaughan.

The site contains four buildings that have about 430,000 square feet with the largest containing about 320,000 square feet.

“Building 1 is ideally constructed to develop as a launching pad for small to mid-sized manufacturing operations. We hope that we can place manufacturers in the building, and as they grow, spin them out to stand alone locations elsewhere in the county,” Vaughan said.

The building is currently being prepared for tenants by local firms J. E. Burton Construction and McDannald Construction.

According to Vaughan, when the work is complete, the IDA will have “vanilla boxes” much like those in a shopping center, which will be marketed to perspective clients.

The new tenants will have a blank canvas with a new more energy efficient roof in which they can design and up-fit their new manufacturing space.

Vaughan said the remaining buildings are more suitable for warehousing/distribution operations.

In January, IDA ratified a construction contract awarding the building renovations to low bidder J. E. Burton Construction Company.

The contract award for demolition projects totaled $166,541 and did not include roof replacement or installation of a fire suppression and alarm system, according to Vaughan, who added those projects are expected to be bid out to subcontractors.

Vaughan said it is anticipated the work to be accomplished within the contract for the Green View Advanced Manufacturing Center will take approximately six to eight months.

In addition to roof demolition and replacement, other work will include repainting the interior and cleaning the floors of the building.

The IDA closed on the Sinai property Dec. 28 purchasing the former Daystrom building from Fred D. Godley using $900,000 in tobacco commission funding.

In addition to the money to buy the Green View Center, the IDA was awarded a $1.8 million grant to up-fit the building by completely removing the roof.

Vaughan said total renovations are expected to cost less than $2 million and will not exceed the money the IDA has been awarded for the project.

IDA officials said last fall they have a “strong written commitment” from a prospect that wants to occupy over 78,000 square feet of space in the building.

“A large part of the building is committed,” Sexton said noting the IDA has a tenant for the part of the facility labeled as Area B.

Currently two tenants occupy about 40,000 square feet of the building, Schaffer Cabinet Works using 10,000 square feet, and Sunshine Mills using storage warehouse space in about 30,000 square feet.

Sexton described the prospective manufacturer seeking to locate in Area B of the building as “an energy related straight forward manufacturer” who will offer jobs that “pay well but don’t require special training.”

Last fall, the IDA executive director said, “The bulk of people who are out of work here will be able to apply and get jobs here. They will need a few engineers and supervisors, but it will be a traditional manufacturing industry.”

“There’s a lot to be done, but it is a very good building in a good location,” Sexton said. “We’re excited about it. We need inexpensive manufacturing space for some of these companies to get started up in.”

The goal is to attract small to medium-size start-up companies offering a lower cost space the companies can grow into, Sexton said, adding each project would be negotiated independently with each requiring different up-fits to their individual spaces.

The 438,000 square foot building presently is divided into a 95,000 square foot section in Area A with 15,000 square feet in office space.

Area B, which the current prospect is anticipated to locate in, contains 78,500 square feet; and Area C and D each contain 43,500 square feet.

Two metal shell buildings containing 70,000 square feet and 30,000 square feet of auxiliary space are located on the back of the building, Sexton said.

The work is being funded by a grant from the Virginia Tobacco Commission and the Halifax County Board of Supervisors.