City of Lexington to begin cleanup on furniture plant that burned down

LEXINGTON, N.C. -- If you ask around Lexington, just about everyone has a connection to the old furniture plant on the south end of Railroad Street.

Pieces of the building sit scattered across a few blocks downtown months after the fire and people have waited to hear the plans for the property.

“We’ve been anxious to see it get cleaned up, and we’re also cleaning up our buildings,” Nathan Kuykendall said.

The city has around $1.18 million for the demolition and cleanup of the property. The project will start with asbestos abatement on the portion of the building that’s still intact by the end of August and it should be complete by the beginning of September.

The city is also accepting bids for the clean up right now. In September, demolition starts and the bricks piled up around around the shell of the plant will start getting picked up.

“Probably the biggest question that we get asked is the Barbecue Festival. And it occupies some of the area, the amphitheater and some of the streets that are currently closed. But that’s been part of the bid process. The folks that are bidding on this, we need a certain portion cleaned by October,” Lexington Mayor Newell Clark said.

By the first few months of next year, this land should be completely cleaned up and ready for redevelopment, weather permitting.

“We’re currently reinventing Lexington, we’ve been doing that for several years and we’ve been very successful with that. But now it’s saying, that was our past and we have to move on and develop new,” Clark said.

In the past, the city had a hard time marketing the land to developers. The mayor said many would need to tear down the property to put something else in its place. Now that the building is coming down, there is a lot of opportunity.

“The space that’s getting cleaned up, we really don’t have a tenant or anything that’s going in there, so it will really open up some green space for someone looking to do something new,” the mayor said.

The people who have spent years here have some ideas too, like new restaurants, apartments or even a museum on what was once made here.

“I think that would be nice. They need to remember that three-fourths of Lexington was employed there,” Peggy Adkins said.

There’s been some talk about restoring the smoke stack, but the city said that could cost around $3 million.

Some people have asked about the city selling the bricks, but because of lead paint and asbestos, they are likely contaminated. The contractor will decide how to dispose of those.