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Halifax IDA hits snag with budget, Daystrom site

SoVaNow.com / October 19, 2020
The Halifax County Industrial Development Authority shared its goals and challenges with Halifax County supervisors during a joint meeting Friday, part of what members called a proactive approach to expanding economic opportunity in Halifax.

The joint meetings are a great idea, said IDA board member Rick Harrell: “We need to keep informing them [Board of Supervisors] of the good and the bad because it’s easier to move forward with more input on a project from others.”

The IDA shared two problems at the meeting, the first in a quarterly schedule of joint sessions between the two boards. One, the IDA has mostly depleted its budget reserves with its support for the new Golden Extraction Labs hemp facility in South Boston and the new industrial shell building on U.S. 58.

Two, there are potentially serious environmental issues with the renovated Daystrom facility, renamed the Southern Virginia Advanced Manufacturing Center.

“These are all the many problems we are addressing,” said IDA executive director Brian Brown, who inherited the problems of the renovated Daystrom building, which the county purchased in 2011 for $900,000.

IDA members sat silently as Brown shared with supervisors the newly approved economic incentive and participation policy for new and expanding businesses in Halifax County. To continue offering the incentives to industry prospects, the IDA will need additional funding this budget year.

That’s because the IDA spent about $650,000 to renovate the Houghton Park facility for Golden Piedmont Labs and the remainder of its $1.6 million budget allocation to build the shell building on Bill Tuck Highway, which is expected to be completed in several weeks.

“Any business that seeks to come to Halifax County, the IDA will need help with funding from the county,” said Brown.

County Administrator Scott Simpson said there are available funds in the county budget to offer incentives if the IDA lands a company that brings jobs and investment to Halifax.

A potentially more serious problem is the Daystrom site. Although the severity has not been determined, there is a reddish stain coming up from the ground through the cracks of the building’s concrete floor.

Brown said the Daystrom building was purchased and redeveloped without a full environmental assessment being done of the property. Halifax County redeveloped the vacant furniture plant on Green’s Folly Road with the assistance of the Virginia Tobacco Commission, which has poured millions into renovations of the facility.

In addition to the stain that is spreading over the concrete floor, petroleum is seeping out of two underground fuel tanks located elsewhere on the property. The issues were discovered by Drapen Aden Associates, which conducted an environmental assessment of the property using proceeds from a brownfield grant that the IDA obtained earlier this year.

It is not clear what is causing the floor stains, or what it could take to fix the problem. However, the building is essentially unmarketable until the issue is resolved, said Brown.

“We hope the seepage is from the concrete and not the subsurface,” he said.

ED-2 supervisor Jeff Francisco raised the possibility of razing the site rather than pouring more money into it, if the county finds itself on the hook for the bill. He inquired about how much the property is worth, and whether demotion is a possible option.

The answer was “yes,” although the IDA will seek further grants to pay for any potential remediation of environmental issues before giving up on the property.

After the two board members returned from a closed session meeting, IDA board member Jeremy Satterfield, who chairs of properties and prospects committee, expressed confidence that the new shell building in front of the Southern Virginia Technology Park on U.S. 58 will be finished in three weeks. IDA offered hints that a new business is ready to acquire the space.

The IDA will next meet Friday, Nov. 20 at 8:30 a.m. at its Building One meeting room at 1100 Confroy Drive, South Boston.



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Comments

IDA waste of money. WIth all the money they have spent on empty buildings could have paid for the court house and a new school. How can the BOS and the people in power who claim to be educated be so stupid.

Comments

So ED-2 supervisor Francisco "raised the possibility of razing the site rather than pouring more money into it" The reality of it is that the County is already on the hook and by letting the underground tanks leak on the watch of the IDA is likely the reason there are issues. The County cannot simply walk away from the property now that contamination has been found it must be dealt with properly or fully disclosed to a prospective buyer. Any good real estate agent worth his salt would already know the answer to the question. How many millions of dollars has the County through the the IDA poured into a property that SHOULD have had a full environmental assessment performed before buying? It was known there were underground tanks, there used to be a chrome shop on the property and many caustic chemicals used in the past. Anyone could have foreseen this disaster, its a shame it's been on the backs of the County Taxpayers. Poor leadership on the part of the IDA was and is evident here.

Comments

The IDA has tried to show "progress" as building and refurbishing. same thoughts toward a school no one has ever maintained. yet we are to trust that "this time it will be different". Kinda like all the arsehats voting for Biden=socialism. When what is fact is that broadband=internet is our biggest hurdle towards attracting companies and educated people to this backward county. Right now there is ZERO need for a $200 million dollar high and $30mil courthouse. I imagine in a few months the courthouse will need to increase ticket quotas so they county can create revenue from teh citizens... Counties keep hiring the rotating circus of "admin" types that haven't worked for a private for profit company.


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