WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company announced in a press release today that it entered into an agreement to donate a portion of the Whitaker Park manufacturing plant and a few surrounding properties to a redevelopment group.
The redevelopment group, WPDA, Inc., is a Winston-Salem based non-profit corporation created by Winston-Salem Business Inc., the Winston-Salem Alliance and Wake Forest University.
As part of the agreement, R.J. Reynolds will donate a laboratory building to WPDA sometime early this year. The remaining properties, including the Whitaker Park plant will be transferred to the non-profit corporation over the next 12-24 months.
“We’re pleased that a local group has stepped forward and committed resources toward repurposing this great and historic plant and its surrounding properties,” said Mark A. Peters, senior vice president and chief financial officer of R.J. Reynolds. “We’re confident these properties will play a key role in the economic development and transformational growth of Winston-Salem and the greater Triad region.”
The 70,000-square-foot laboratory was donated because of its potential for economic development.
“This is an incredible gift by R.J. Reynolds to WPDA,” said Don Flow, WPDA Board chairman. “Whitaker Park has been such a strong presence in our community for decades and I look forward to working with the WPDA Board to repurpose the property to expand the tax base and create new jobs for the citizens of our community.”
The Whitaker Park manufacturing plant opened in 1961 and initially covered about 14 acres, including 615,295 square feet of floor space. According to the press release, it was designed by R.J. Reynolds’ engineering department and constructed by employees, it was the world’s largest and most modern cigarette plant at the time.