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Renovations underway on former brush plant building

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The site of the previous Harper Brush company plant on May 22, 2017. (Joe Pellegrino/The Daily Reflector)


Michael Abramowitz
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Reporter’s note: this article includes a correction of an earlier edition to point out that demolition work is being privately funded.

Work has begun to renovate a former brush manufacturing plant located north of the Tar River near Pitt County’s major industrial parks following the recent closure of the bidding process for the property and a final sale price of $700,000.

The former Harper Brush plant at 2400 N. Memorial Drive, closed since 2012, entered an upset bid process on Feb. 21 when St. Louis-based Commercial Development Co. entered a bid of $250,000 for the 371,343-square-foot manufacturing facility. In December, CDC purchased the mortgage on the property owned by PGV Properties (Harper Brush), CDC Executive Vice President Mark Hinds said.

In North Carolina, after the sale of a property in a foreclosure, there are 10 days allowed for another party to offer a higher bid or for the property owner to file a bankruptcy to stop the foreclosure. According to N.C. statutes (45-21.27), a new bid must be 5 percent higher than the previous bid, accompanied by a 5 percent deposit. There were several upset bids during the process, Hinds said.

The appraised value of the property, acquired by the previous lender, was approximately $2.6 million, according to Hinds. 

“We won the auction process and our goal now is to get the property fixed up and address its deficiencies, then find a new business to occupy it,” Hinds said.

Built in 1964, this site was operated by Empire Brushes Inc. until being purchased by Rubbermaid in 1994, according to a statement released by CDC. The site has undergone multiple expansions and upgrades since that time and was last operated by Harper Brush Company.

Privately funded demolition of certain areas on site continues, including six silos on the south side of the site and a hook-shaped section of the building on the west side of the site, CDC spokesman John Kowalik said. The company also has been conducting asbestos abatement to prepare for the demolition activities, he said. The majority of the buildings will remain intact.

“Our management team sees potential in this site and is investing significant resources into revitalizing the facilities and bringing it back to productivity after years of abandonment and decay. The site has very desirable attributes that we expect to attract an end user in manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, etc.,” Kowalik told The Daily Reflector Monday.

Following demolition, the site will have 364,000 square feet of usable industrial space, as well as CSX rail access, more than 20 tractor trailer docks with trailer parking and excellent highway and interstate access. Ceiling heights inside the plant range from 17 feet to 29 feet. The warehouse carries a heavy floor load, 30 dock high doors, two drive-in doors, some mezzanine area and racking inside, and a 7.5-ton crane.

More than 20 additional acres of the site will be available for expansion, Kowalik said. 

Environmental investigations are ongoing and will determine the scope of the environmental cleanup needed on the site, Kowalik said. Rubbermaid has transferred ownership of the site but maintains the environmental liabilities, he said.

“We’ve been learning about all the great things going on in the community from conversations we’ve had with Pitt County Development Commission Director Wanda Yuhas and NCEast Alliance Director John Chaffee,” Hinds said. “Bringing 364,000 square feet of manufacturing space back onto the market in a relatively short time will be a great help to the community.”

PCDC will be in a better position to market development of the property following the conclusion of the auction process, Yuhas said. 

“The CDC people really liked our market when they visited us,” Yuhas said. “It’s rail-served, so that would give us a lot of options, and this one is right there at U.S. 264, a four-lane freeway. (CDC) saw that we are emerging from a big town to becoming a small city and seeing so much positive change in a number of different quarters countywide. They saw the potential from getting into this market early on.” 

Contact Michael Abramowitz at mabramowitz@reflector.com or 252-329-9507.