The Durham City Council unanimously approved a $6 million economic development incentive agreement Monday night intended to help revive a tobacco plant renovation that has been stalled for years.
“I definitely think we have a really good opportunity here,” said Councilman Steve Schewel. “... Maybe it will get done this time.”
The building at 701 W. Main St. was built in the late 1940s. The former Liggett and Myers cigarette plant has been vacant since 1999, according to Kevin Dick, director of the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.
Blue Devil Ventures, which began the redevelopment of West Village, planned a makeover for the factory, but hit financial challenges. Subsequent legal maneuvering stalled redevelopment until Wexford Science & Technology acquired the 360,000 square foot building in late 2013, paying $7.5 million.
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Plans for the building between the downtown core and Brightleaf Square include an investment of $80 million to put 284,000 square feet of commercial space, 78,000 square feet of offices, 42,000 square feet of “research and development innovation space” and 11,000 square feet of ground-floor retail into the factory building.
Wexford, a life sciences development company which created the project subsidiary Wexford Chesterfield Parking LLC, also plans a 554-space off-site parking deck, which would be supplemented with 221 on-site spaces.
The city estimates that Chesterfield tenants will create 710 permanent jobs, with 560 temporary jobs created by construction, with work beginning this year. Incentive payments of $400,000 per year, which wouldn’t begin until after the construction is completed, would extend over a 15-year period starting in 2018. The city expects to bring in $8 million in additional tax revenue over the 15-year period, Dick said.
The company would also be required to maintain a minimum level of occupancy in the building to qualify for the incentives.