SMOKE CLEARS.

Author:Pressler, Alyssa
Position:STATEWIDE: Charlotte

The owners of the former Philip Morris plant in Concord are hoping a clean slate will help attract new tenants--and return economic prosperity--to the 2,000-acre site where 2,500 people once worked making a billion cigarettes a year.

In early February, D.H. Griffin began to deconstruct seven warehouses on the land. Demolition of the 3.5 million-square-foot main facility--it was once the world's largest cigarette plant--will begin by April, says Wellford Tabor, managing partner of property owner Bootsmead LeaseCo.

"They are removing the existing buildings and preparing the site so that new users can come and build their own facilities," Tabor says. What's next is anyone's guess, he says. With the help of real-estate services firm JLL, Bootsmead has been showing the land on U.S. 29 to prospective tenants for about a year. After consulting with state and local economic-development officials, Bootsmead decided demolishing the facility would better appeal to prospective tenants.

JLL's Pete Pittroff, managing director of marketing for The Grounds at Concord, says that while the firm has had steady interest in the site, he anticipates showings will increase post-demolition.

The land is zoned for several uses, including industrial zoning at the plant site that encompasses 500 acres. Utility infrastructure is already in place, and the site has rail and interstate access, including four separate four-lane roads leading to Interstate 85. The owners could subdivide the property, allowing several businesses to become tenants, Tabor says.

The main goal is to bring back some of the jobs and $8 million in tax revenue lost when Philip Morris shuttered the plant in 2007. "We're really excited about their commitment to continue using it as industrial land to create jobs," Concord Mayor Bill Dusch says.

Switzerland-based energy-storage company Alevo bought the land from Philip Morris in...

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