The Halifax Industrial Development Authority heard a presentation from Draper Aden Associates at their Friday board meeting to identify whether the former Daystrom facility needs rehabilitation prior to a potential investor redeveloping.

Draper Aden Associates joined the IDA board by conference call to give a presentation on an assessment of the facility at 1120 Greens Folly Road, South Boston. Joining the call were Draper Aden Associates employees Srikanth Nathella, Lori Kroll and Janet Frazier.

Draper Aden Associates is a multi-discipline environmental engineering consulting firm with offices in Virginia and North Carolina. The firm is conducting a phase II environmental site assessment of the former Daystrom facility. The assessment entails soil and groundwater testing, indoor air sampling and an extended review of past environmental reports and regulatory files at the facility.

The three-year $600,000 Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Assessment grant for the former Daystrom facility was awarded in October 2017. No matching funding is required for the grant. A new $50,000 grant from the Virginia Brownfields Assessment Fund will take the remaining monies from the EPA grant along with the funds from the new grant to do the additional testing that needs to be done.

Draper Aden Associates shared in their presentation that the firm defines a “brownfield” as a “property with possibilities,” and the goal of the assessment of the Daystrom building is to identify whether the facility needs rehabilitation prior to a potential investor redeveloping the property for optimal use.

The best use of the former Daystrom facility is “light manufacturing and distribution,” according to IDA executive director Brian Brown.

“The IDA will have the option to re-enroll the site into the Virginia Remediation Program to satisfy the concerns and receive certificate of completion for the site.  As a result of these tests, there will be a development plan to move forward with marketing the site, which may include restrictions of use and limit areas of development,” Brown explained. “This is why we have pulled marketing of the site and have notified companies that are seeking to lease the building of this decision. The anticipated time frame to complete this work is six months.”

The associates from Draper Aden noted in the presentation that the former Daystrom facility has had “a lot of assessments done over the past 30 years” but has never gotten a satisfactory certificate of assessment completion.

The $600,000 grant covers the cost of assessing the property only, with the goal of identifying whether the facility needs rehabilitation.

Board member Mattie Cowan asked the question, “We’re spending $600,000 to assess it, but very little (remediation) work is being done?”

Brown responded that the reason for doing the facility assessments is to give potential investors an opportunity to decide whether or not they want to invest in the property. He added that facility assessments also provide background knowledge necessary to make a decision regarding the potential need for remediation of a property.

Cowan also asked if the facility on Greens Folly Road should be occupied during the assessment process. Draper Aden responded that there is no reason why the building could not be occupied.

Brown followed up by asking the question, “But, it’s easier to do your testing without additional tenants in the building?”

“Yes, that’s correct,” Nathella said.

The former Daystrom facility was purchased by the Halifax IDA in 2010. A tobacco commission grant was secured to assist with the purchase and general upfit of the facility. Brown said approximately $2 million in additional improvements have been completed on the building. He added the facility does not have HVAC and will need additional lighting, electrical and mechanical work to upfit the building for any tenant.  

There is approximately 14,000 square feet of office space that is currently at a base shell level, consisting of only walls and concrete flooring.

The Draper Aden Associates noted in their presentation to IDA that the firm has successfully completed a number of environmental site assessments in Halifax County aside from the Greens Folly Road facility, including the South Boston Fire Department, the Burlington Mills Site in Halifax, and an ongoing Phase II assessment at the former JPS Apparel/ Carter Fabrics Facility on Vaughn Street.

The Draper Aden Associates also encouraged the IDA to apply for a second EPA grant in the fall for potential redevelopment of other facilities in Halifax County.

“I think that is definitely something we will look at for the future,” Brown said.

In other business, Brown informed the board of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy and small businesses. He shared that Virginia is No. 6 in the country in terms of job losses due to the pandemic.

“It (the coronavirus) is becoming a significant impact on our economy. It’s affected a lot of our small businesses,” Brown said.

Brown also asked the board to consider authorizing a resolution for remote meeting attendance because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The board met in the larger conference room at the Southern Virginia Technology Park instead of the boardroom for the second month in a row in observance of social distancing. But the board decided not to vote on the resolution to conduct a remote meeting, favoring a face-to-face meeting format.

“I think we’ll stick with what we’ve got unless things get any worse, then we’ll reassess,” said board chairman Robert Bates.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.