Green is Golden-belt Redevelopment Project

This entry was posted Wednesday, 16 September, 2009 at 11:01 pm

Historic Goldenbelt

A Community Supported Energy (CSE) Project and Incubator Space for the Arts and the Emerging Green Economy– a project of The Forest Foundation

The North Wing of Goldenbelt Manufacturing in Durham, NC is the last building in need of redevelopment, connecting us to our historical roots in the tobacco industry. It sits directly in the midst of a Hope VI federal redevelopment area and has received funding for: Brownfields assessments in the corridor along Angier and Pettigrew (one of the Triangle’s few industrial areas); and green jobs training through Durham Tech. The South Wing has already been redeveloped by Scientific Properties. This 360Kft2 factory was built in the early 1900’s to print and produce packaging for the cigarettes, and is a robust complex, with acres of open floors, outside parking areas and green space. The goal of our “Green is Goldenbelt Project” to utilize this site to the betterment of our community and change the redevelopment model– requiring expensive rents and gentrification to pay back investors and bank loans, to one that will create jobs, train and redevelop using green techniques while preserving some of Durham’s history for those organizations that have made Durham a better place to live. The focus will be around construction of the two sustainable energy projects: biomass and photovoltaic (PV), that will be core tenants, providing tax credits, generating income, reducing operating costs, and use the process of site redevelopment to train and employ our East Durham community.

The first step is to create a series of investment and redevelopment groups:

I. Site and building redevelopment;

II. Biomass Cogeneration system in the old boiler room area;

III. Commercial PV System for the roof;

IV. Green Jobs Training program in deconstruction, redevelopment and alternative energy and energy efficiency installations; and

V. Tenant/co-owner coaltion to utilize the space as it is redeveloped.

The goal is to have the two clean energy projects as anchor tenants, generating income and subsidizing portions of the redevelopment project. This would tie nicely into The Forest Foundation’s effort at developing a “Community Supported Energy” Cooperative and its work in Green Jobs Training. Redevelopment of the roof and boiler room area may happen first, and the rest of the building can be more gradual, allowing the work generated to become a training opportunity for green jobs. To gain historic tax credits the newer 1950’s annex that was constructed will need to be separated from the main building. Interest in remodeling this space to double its capacity and purchasing and leasing this side building exists.

The overall Porject will require excellent design, planning, coordination, quite a bit of political leverage with the goal to create a national model for green redevelopment and a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified building. LEED should not be just for expensive developments, but be made affordable and available to those organization promoting principles of community sustainability. This building has the potential to support local non-profits and incubate the new green economy in Durham

Building and Neighborhood Redevelopment

The Goldenbelt Manufacturing Company was founded by Julian Carr in 1900 as a textile factory that processed cotton into thread and produced pouches for Bull Durham tobacco. Carr’s operation of Golden Belt was innovative and adaptive: as the demand for tobacco bags waned, the plant produced thread and cloth for other uses and printed paper packaging for cigarettes. Operations ceased in 1996. A track record has been established with the successful redevelopment of the South Wing and adjacent residential and commercial properties by Scientific Properties, ( Greenfire and the American Tobacco complex has also shown that these types of mixed use histroic redevelopments can make business sense and be besutiful additions to a downtown community renewal.

The site offers enormous potential for investors to receive large tax credits for revitalization, as well as those available for renewable energy and pollution reduction. Current tax credits include:

1) 30% State and 35% Federal tax credit for all alternative energy projects;
2) qualifies for a 20% state and 20% federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit;
3) projects that reduce air or water pollution or waste disposal pay no property taxes;
4) NC Renewable Energy Equipment Manufacturer Incentive allows a 25% credit for
installation and equipment cost;
5) State Energy Office is offering low interest loans and grants for alt. energy;
6) Accelerated depreciation is also available for plant equipment and property
7) Equipment may be donated to a non-profit at the end of its investment cycle for additional deductions.

Other grants and credits available are:

American Resource and Recovery Act (ARRA), Sustainable Communities Grant, Pathways Out of Poverty Green Job Training; Dept. of Energy: Community Development Block Grants, Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing for energy efficiency for commercial and residential; Dept. of Treasury: New Market Tax Credits; and Goldenleaf.

The Goldenbelt site is in the middle of a Hope VI, HUD revitalization project and a new Historic redistricting area, which are making the property rapidly increase in value. The desire of community leaders is to bring jobs to the area, entry-level manufacturing and construction jobs for the under-employed rather than high tech or clerical. The goal is reduce redevelopment costs by using existing infrastructure and equipment: to revitalize, reuse and reduce overall impacts. The site boasts:

•rail spur and switch, and quick access to the Durham Freeway;
•storage tanks with containment barriers;
•lots of paved and open land 7 acres grandfathered and over 300 parking spaces;
•sewer, water, electrical, natural gas;
•thousands of square feet of high ceiling warehouse and out buildings;
•loading docks, parking, gated entry;
•existing markets for renewable energy and tenants;
•Zoned I2, residential neighborhood in need of redevelopment;
•Adjacent to downtown, Good Work, Trosa and SEEDS.

To purchase the North Wing and redevelop it as a whole would cost in the range of $40 million, $3 million for the old mill (150Kft2) and $2.5 million for the newer addition (45K ft2) and $35 million for the redevelopment (approximately $30 million was used for the South Wing). Adjacency to a residential area, Commercial/Office zoning, truck traffic, waste-water discharge and air emissions permitting issues may be obstacles to development.

Biomass Cogeneration

A unique aspect of this project will be its use of a biomass cogeneration boiler to produce steam and electricity from yard waste, or other biomass, like wood chips, to drive the building’s energy needs. The heat will boil water into steam, which will then drive a turbine to produce electricity. These hyper efficient and super clean systems are found around the world in dense urban environments, where they can achieve maximum efficiencies. A pre-processing deck will be needed for this site, with a delivery truck feeding a hopper, and all the process contained indoors. Steam and electricity from this $5-10 million dollar project can be used for the building as well as adjacent properties, with a impact even on downtown and Hope VI redevelopment communities. Heating and cooling pipes can be run in a radius of close to a mile to both commercial and residential buildings, ideally new construction but buildings can be retrofitted as well without huge cost. Importantly, new super efficient steam absorption systems can also be used to help cool buildings in the summer.

The Goldenbelt site already has steam pipes in some of the buildings for winter heat, and electrical needs may be provided by biomass, PV and/or any other sustainable energy systems developed. Finally, excess electrical may be sold into the NCGreenPower program, which can generate a higher Kw-hr value. There are a number of variables for biomass production, including optimum size for economies of scale, but there are a number of players who have been looking for an ideal site to implement a Durham project. Importantly, the facility already has a rail spur and processing area with truck delivery access for potential feedstock, and the boiler room is enormous. Downsides are NIMBY perceptions of biomass as being dirty.

PhotoVoltaic Roof System

A photovoltaic manufacturer and investment group will pay to install the system, lease roof space, sell energy at a reduced cost to the facility, generating immediate capital for the project. With over 100,000 ft2 of roof surface and double that with potential parking area, the project has the potential to produce close to 2 Megawatts of energy, a $10 million dollar project. The investment group is willing to pay for a portion of the cost of roof repair, which is needed first. This project may work well in collaboration with a low cost Green Roof system, using vegetation or high reflectivity modern materials. A parking roof system with PV panels on it can be made attractive, reduce thermal heating, provide shade and reduce storm water runoff, capturing rainwater in cisterns. Each of these projects will allow training in three very hot fields in the green economy and will require many years of employment to complete. These energy projects will increase the long-term sustainability and rate of return of the overall redevelopment project, with enormous tax credits to the investors, accelerated depreciation and opportunity to donate the equipment to a non-profit at the end of the payback for additional tax deductions.

Green Jobs Training and Green Business Incubator

Efforts are being made by the Office of Economic and Workforce Development and the Black, Brown, Green Alliance (BBGA) to develop a joint Green Jobs Training system using ARRA funding. Long-term sustainability/self-sufficiency of this project requires focus less on green jobs training and more on Green Business Development. The Goldenbelt project is large enough to offer multiple year employment and training in emerging green economy fields, with the end result of space being available as a green business incubator, where multiple businesses can share in overhead and synergies with a lower cost leases partially subsidized by the clean, alternative energy projects. Other projects that can be developed on site at Goldenbelt are a Green Café and Green House using heat from the biomass facility to produce vegetables and herbs year round, recycling water and providing food and training for a restaurant in the complex.

“Workbench” Arts Space

Over a dozen non-profits in Durham are in need of reasonably priced space for offices and operations. Rapid downtown redevelopment has made much of the real estate too expensive for the nascent arts community. Many of the organizations outreach to low-income minority children and serve an incredibly important function in the community. Examples are the Scrap Exchange, YIKES!, etc.

The building redevelopment may not be able to rent the entire space to non-profits or nascent green businesses and currently has several larger businesses/organizations in it, including Duke University and a high-tech. electronics company. However, the return on loans and investment and revenue produced by the clean energy projects can determine the amount of space available for subsidy.