The fate of the former Daystrom building was a topic of discussion at a Friday morning joint meeting of the Halifax Industrial Development Authority and the Halifax County Board of Supervisors.
Halifax IDA executive director Brian Brown shared with the board of supervisors the results of a Phase II environmental assessment of the former Daystrom building, now known as the Southern Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Center, on Greens Folly Road conducted by Draper Aden Associates.
“We received a $50,000 grant from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the Department of Environment Quality (DEQ) to look at additional testing for a Phase II assessment at the site,” Brown said. “There were 11 areas of concern that they identified for us to look at. There are challenges as a result of what we’ve seen in Phase II.”
One of the first issues identified was a petroleum release on two underground storage tanks on site, and Brown recommended removing the tanks in the future although it is not required.
Another major issue that Draper Aden identified is reddish stains seeping through the concrete floor in the two largest portions of the building, Brown reported to the boards.
He said no tenant could occupy those portions of the building until that problem was addressed.
“That’s one of the reasons why we’re having trouble putting people into the building and having trouble selling the building down the road,” Brown explained. “We bought the building without the environmental protections that are offered through the state. We’re always going to be in a chain of custody unless we go through the voluntary remediation program, and get a clean bill of health. This is the process of getting us through those state requirements so that we can put people in the building.”
IDA board treasurer Mattie Cowan asked if the IDA could apply for grants to address the environmental health problems with the former Daystrom building. Brown replied, “yes.”
“We are considered a priority site for DEQ to be able to move this building (project) forward,” Brown added.
The IDA purchased the former Daystrom building for $900,000 and approximately $4 million worth of renovations has gone into the building since, including $3.1 million worth of renovations funded by grants from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, Brown told the boards.
“I hate to keep throwing more money into something you’re already upside down on,” ED-2 Supervisor Jeff Francisco commented. He also asked how $4 million had been spent on a building that is currently only worth an estimated $2 million. Brown replied that not having a clean bill of environmental health with the DEQ depreciates the value of the building, and as long as those environmental issues are not addressed, the building’s value will remain at a lower level.
Members of the board of supervisors also asked Brown what would be the best use of the former Daystrom building, once the building is brought up to a clean bill of health.
“Small manufacturing and warehousing, that’s probably the best usage,” Brown replied.
Brown also was asked if demolishing the former Daystrom building was an option if the cost of remediating the building outweighs the benefit, and if the IDA would have to pay back the grant money received from the Tobacco Commission for the building remediation. Brown said demolishing the building is an option, and the IDA would have a good case for not paying back the grant money in that case under a hardship clause of the agreement.