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As many as 1,000 jobs could be created at proposed industrial park in Lexington

The city of Lexington and Triad real-estate developer Front Street Capital have formed a partnership to build an industrial park on 204 acres of farmland off Brown Street.

The groups have spent $2.48 million to buy adjacent tracts containing 102.26 and 101.92 acres in the 1500 and 1600 block of Brown Street off Interstate 85, according to a Davidson County Register of Deeds filing Thursday.

Although Front Street Capital bought the properties now identified as Lexington Industrial Park, the limited liability company is 51% owned by Lexington and 49% by the firm.

The sellers are Brown Street Partners LLC, who has Dan Timberlake as one of four partners, and Golden Crescent Investment Corp., an affiliate of Leonard Craver Realty.

Robin Team, managing partner of the Winston-Salem private-equity real-estate firm, said Friday there are plans for four to five industrial buildings in the park.

A site map developed by Stimmel Associates contains five lots with buildings of 1 million square feet on 50 acres, along with 500,000 square feet on 35.9 acres, 150,000 square feet on 12.3 acres, 100,000 square feet on 9.4 acres, and 90,000 square feet on 7.6 acres. Another site plan would place a trailer storage site at the 12.3-acre site.

“We’ll build to lease or build to sell on properties that have all infrastructure and utilities in place,” Team said. “We’ll begin actively marketing the properties in the spring.

“We have a very robust marketing plan that will encompass these properties, as well as other industrial properties, as we works closely with each county’s economic development officials.”

Lexington city manager Terra Greene said the groups are open to constructing speculative buildings on the properties.

“We had been interested in these properties for a number of years, but their availability became more of a possibility late last year,” Greene said.

“We believe this will be a win for all groups involved, particularly given that the land will have a more productive use. We feel the property tax base could grow from $2 million now to up to $50 million.

“We feel the potential for the industrial park to help bring in 500 to 1,000 jobs,” Greene said.

Greene said the properties will be marketed to potential suppliers to the nearby Egger Wood Products in Linwood and the Chewy distribution center in Salisbury.

“We’ll rely on our economic development officials and the developer to determine our marketing steps,” Greene said.

Egger recently moved into the first office spaces for its $700 million manufacturing operations in Lexington.

The Austrian company announced plans in July 2017 for the 770-job project, of which 400 would be created in a $300 million first phase expected to take six years. The company said it has hired more than 200 employees to date.

Particleboard manufacturing production is scheduled to begin by the end of 2020. The project is the first large development in the county-owned I-85 Corporate Center.

Craig Goodson, president and chief executive of Davidson County Economic Development Commission, said he believes the proposed industrial park will be attractive in part because it is located one mile from I-85 and three miles from I-285.

“This is the perfect location for advanced manufacturing, data, pharma and logistics,” Goodson said.

“Front Street Capital will offer a one-stop source for build-to-suit projects to companies who may want to lease or own, and partnering with the city will fast track any project for a highly reliable speed to market for any company considering this location.

“The park is also surrounded by retail and commercial to serve employees, there is a large population of city and county residents with a deep-rooted manufacturing expertise and heritage in close proximity, and add the workforce services of DCCC and DavidsonWorks to round out what is a low-risk location for industry.”

In the works

The Lexington project is the latest in the Triad for Front Street.

In September, the UCIC LLC affiliate of Front Street paid $5.5 million to buy three potential industrial sites near Herbalife Nutrition Ltd. in southeast Forsyth County.

The 4900 Millennium property contains 62.24 acres and is on the western most edge of the Temple School Road industrial campus that also includes facilities with Caterpillar Inc., Herbalife and, most recently, Bunzl Distribution USA Inc.

Team said the 11-acre parcel contains a 140,000 square foot speculative building that has been fully leased to a company named Southern Carlson. “We have room for two more buildings totaling as much as 600,000 square feet,” Team said.

Front Street announced May 29 it has broken ground on a nine-story, 110,000-square-foot building in downtown Greensboro.

That building will be part of the “Project Slugger” development on a corner of land at First National Bank Field, home of the Greensboro Grasshoppers. It will feature the regional headquarters of F.N.B. Corp.

In downtown Winston-Salem, Front Street is redeveloping what it referred to as Building 23-1/Bailey South, along with the Morris Building, into nearly 100,000 square feet of office and retail space.

The project represents a $25 million capital investment. The plan is to add up to 65,000 square feet of new office and retail space to the existing 10,000-square-foot concrete structure of Bailey South for an overall six-story building.

The Morris Building, on the southwest corner of the block, would serve as the foundation for more than 20,000 square feet of additional retail space.

City of Winston-Salem hopes to open Bolton Pool on time after fixing leak

Renovations to Bolton Pool will stop a slow leak that’s been going on for years, but the repairs have some potential for delaying the traditional Memorial Day opening of the city-owned pool for the summer, said William Royston, the director of recreation and parks for the city of Winston-Salem.

Last summer, the city entered into a contract with Aquatic Designs Inc. to give the pool a renovation that includes replacement of the plaster on the pool walls and other work, at a cost of $425,000.

In November 2019, the contract was modified after an inspection showed that there were some leaks underneath the pool that needed fixing as well. That increased the contract cost to $530,900.

Royston said the city is hoping to get the work done to open the pool on time.

“But there are no guarantees because of the additional things found,” he said, referring to the leaks.

The scope of the original work included the restoration of ceramic tiles and the installation of a stainless steel gutter system.

Royston said the leaks were slow ones that had been occurring for some 20 years.

The project is being paid for with money from the $122 million bond package city voters approved in 2018. That measure included $31 million for parks and recreation.

The city has other pools if Bolton doesn’t open on time: Kimberley Park, Long Creek, Mineral Springs, Parkland Park, Polo Park, Reynolds Park and at Winston Waterworks.

In related news, a playground renovation at Bolton Park will close the playground this summer while work goes on to replace the existing equipment, Royston said.

Conviction in fatal crash that killed mother of two. Prosecutors said he was speed racing.

A Winston-Salem man was driving 75 mph trying to race another man when his car slammed into the driver’s side of a car pulling out of a shopping center on New Walkertown Road, killing a mother of two who was behind the wheel, the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

Ravon Walser Rousseau, 27, of Woodfin Place pleaded guilty Thursday in Forsyth Superior Court to second-degree murder and several other charges, including felony hit and run and speed competition. He also pleaded guilty to several unrelated charges, including assault on a government official with a firearm.

Judge Athena Brooks of Forsyth Superior Court sentenced Rousseau to a minimum of 13 years and one month to a maximum of 16 years and nine months, according to court documents.

Matt Breeding and Ben White were the prosecutors in the case. Elizabeth Toomes represented Rousseau.

According to prosecutors, the collision happened on Nov. 14, 2018. At 7:30 p.m., Olivia Flores, 35, was driving a 1994 Honda Accord station wagon as a taxi. She was working for Universal Taxi Cab Co. of Winston-Salem. Prosecutors said she was earning extra money for her youngest daughter’s baptism.

Flores was turning left onto New Walkertown Road out of a shopping center when Rousseau’s black Infiniti G35 rammed into the driver’s side of the taxi. He was driving at least 75 mph in a 45-mph zone. Flores, who had two children, died at the scene from catastrophic blunt force injuries.

Rousseau and his passenger left the scene, according to authorities.

Witnesses told police that they saw a still unidentified vehicle speeding down New Walkertown Road just before they saw Rousseau’s car, and one witness said he saw the two cars racing before Rousseau wrecked. Both cars were estimated to have been traveling at 70-100 mph.

Winston-Salem police did not find Rousseau that night, but Officer L. Pringle encountered Rousseau at a gas station on New Walkertown Road about two weeks later. He confirmed with communications that Rousseau had an outstanding arrest warrant. When Rousseau came out of the convenience store, Pringle approached him. Rousseau backed away and then pulled a gun. Pringle rushed at him, grabbed the gun and took him into custody.

Later at the police station, Rousseau declined to answer investigators’ questions but provided a DNA sample, which matched a DNA profile found on the driver’s seat of the Infiniti G35.

A month later, a woman who claimed she was the passenger was arrested on unrelated charges. She said Rousseau was racing another person on the night of the wreck and that she had told Rousseau to slow down. He refused and used the center lane to pass other cars to catch up with the car he was racing.

Rousseau took photos of the wreck scene afterward. Winston-Salem police later found not only photos of the scene on Rouseeau’s phone, they also found video clips of Rousseau racing other vehicles. One had Rousseau going 140 mph. Another video showed Rousseau driving at night at more than 100 mph and then turning off the headlights.

At the time of the wreck, Rousseau’s driver’s license had been revoked.

In an unrelated case, Forsyth County prosecutors had accused Rousseau of shooting at two police officers, but the charges were dropped after further investigation showed that he was just shooting at targets.

 csherrill  / 

Trump names Rep. Mark Meadows his new chief of staff

WASHINGTON — In the midst of one of the most daunting crises of his administration, President Donald Trump on Friday announced he had made a major staff overhaul, replacing his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney with Republican Rep. Mark Meadows.

While much of the country was focused on the spreading coronavirus, Trump announced the surprise reshuffle by Friday night tweet, saying Mulvaney would become the U.S. special envoy for Northern Ireland.

“I have long known and worked with Mark, and the relationship is a very good one,” he wrote, thanking Mulvaney — who never shook his “acting” title — “for having served the Administration so well.”

The long-rumored move comes as Trump has been pulling together a team of loyalists and allies ahead of what is expected to be a bitter reelection fight. But the timing — as his administration was already facing criticism over its handling of the outbreak — threatened to exacerbate concerns about the government’s ability to protect the nation from a virus that has now infected more than 100,000 people worldwide.

Mulvaney had been leading the administration’s interagency response to the virus until Trump designated Vice President Mike Pence to lead the whole-of-government effort more than a week ago.

It was just one of a long series of downgrades for Mulvaney, whose relationship with Trump began to sour not long after he was named to the position in December 2018. Indeed, Trump had been eyeing the change for many months, according to people familiar with his thinking, but wanted to wait until after the impeachment saga was over to make his move.

Meadows, the onetime leader of the House Freedom Caucus, is a longtime Trump confidant and sounding board, whose political instincts Trump respects. He announced last year that he would not be seeking reelection for his North Carolina House seat, and said at the time that he expected to join Trump’s team in some capacity. He will be Trump’s fourth chief of staff in as many years.

He was officially offered the job Thursday, according to one of the people familiar with the matter, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the changes publicly. Mulvaney was informed Friday.

Some outside advisers had cautioned Trump that making such a high-profile switch during the coronavirus crisis would rattle markets craving stability, and his decision to make the announcement after Wall Street had closed Friday was partly informed by those concerns, the people said.

A former congressman from South Carolina, Mulvaney had portrayed himself as a happy warrior, satisfied with letting “Trump be Trump” as he focused on boosting White House staff morale and wooing lawmakers at the Camp David presidential retreat. And while he never grated on Trump or other White House staffers like the two men who had held the post before him, Mulvaney had been relegated to the sidelines even before a disastrous mid-October press conference in which he insisted quid pro quo was normal when it came to foreign policy, undercutting the president’s position that there was no such thing in his dealings with Ukraine.

Trump was furious about Mulvaney’s handling of the impeachment probe, and also faulted Mulvaney — who feuded with the White House counsel during the probe — for not mounting a more robust defense of his actions.

Still, his allies had repeatedly brushed off rumblings of his imminent departure and had said as recently as last month that he planned to stay at least through the election in November.

Ever since he was acquitted by the Senate on impeachment charges, Trump has been on a tear to rid his administration of those he deems insufficiently loyal. And he has been assembling a team of trusted confidants as he prepares for a tough reelection fight.

Meadows, a close ally and friend of the president, has made clear to the White House and those close to the president that he has no plans to try to rein in Trump, as others — like Mulvaney’s predecessor, retired four-star Gen. John Kelly — have tried and failed to do.

One person close to Mulvaney insisted he was pleased with the decision to bring in Meadows, noting the two were friends and had served together on the House Freedom Caucus. Indeed, they said Mulvaney had raised the idea of Meadows as chief of staff before he even had the job and discussed the plan with Trump following his trip to India last week.