The town of Drexel is getting a Golden LEAF grant for $500,000 to clean up and redevelop a former Drexel furniture mill site.
The town’s project was one of three in Burke County to receive grants from the organization that was announced last week.
The site is at 101 N. Main St. Drexel Heritage Furniture closed the location in 2001.
Golden LEAF says the site is served by rail and is expected to attract an estimated $500 million in private investment. The town, which has owned the site since 2017, will be turned into a shovel-ready industrial site.
The property was given to the town by the previous owner in lieu of paying delinquent property taxes, according to information from Drexel.
Sherri Bradshaw, town manager of Drexel, said cleaning up the site has been something the town has been wanting to do since it received the property. The site is currently a big pile of rubble.
Bradshaw said the town wants to clean it up, rebury the water and sewer lines, market it as an industrial site and get an industry there that will benefit the town and county through new tax revenue and employment.
The last estimate the town received for cleanup and hauling of the contaminated debris to the closest landfill accepting asbestos-contaminated materials was $3 million. However, the estimate was just for landfill fees to accept the waste; there will be additional costs to haul waste to a landfill that accepts that type of material, according to information from the town.
The town has received ARC and N.C. Department of Commerce grants totaling nearly $1 million to fund most of the needed utility work and additional grants from the Commerce Department and local matching funds for cleanup of demolition rubble.
In addition to the latest grant for the site, Drexel received a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant in 2018 for assistance in cleanup of the property. The funds are being held at this time in hopes of using it to match other grant awards and accomplish more cleanup efforts, according to information from the town.
In 2019, the town was awarded a $25,000 ElectriCities SmartSite grant for assistance in additional assessment and marketing of the back portion of the property, according to the town.
Last year, the town also received two more grants to help with the project.
In April 2020, it was awarded a $150,000 Appalachian Regional Commission grant for sewer infrastructure rehab on the front property, according to the town. Information from Drexel says the rehabilitation process will begin once some definite decisions are made regarding cleanup.
Also in 2020, Drexel was awarded a $647,100 Rural Infrastructure Authority grant from the N.C. Commerce Department for the building of water and sewer infrastructure to the back portion of the property for future development, according to the town.
Drexel’s project was just one of those that received grants totaling $15.2 million from Golden LEAF board of directors’ latest funding through the Community-Based Grant Initiative in the Northwest Prosperity Zone, as well as the Economic Catalyst Program, Open Grants Program and Disaster Recovery Grant Program.
The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to receive a portion of North Carolina’s funding from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers. For 20 years, Golden LEAF has worked to increase economic opportunity in the state’s rural and tobacco-dependent communities through leadership in grantmaking, collaboration, innovation and stewardship as an independent and perpetual foundation, the organization says.