Wake Forest Innovation Quarter announced this morning that Wexford Science & Technology has bought portions of the Bailey Power Plant for a $40 million redevelopment project.

Wexford bought about two-thirds of the plant, which ceased operations about 20 years ago, for an undisclosed amount. The deal includes most of the plant’s surrounding grounds, including its iconic chimney stacks.

In this first stage in the redevelopment of the Bailey Power Plant, Wexford plans to create about 110,800 square feet of new office, entertainment and retail space in what is called Building 23-2 — the five-story main structure of the plant.

“We’re in the process of speaking with prospective tenants right now, so there could be a wide variety of different types of companies locating in the power plant,” said Will Partin, senior project manager of development for Wexford, a BioMed Realty company.

Wexford also plans to develop outdoor communal spaces aimed at complementing the adjacent Bailey Park on Patterson Avenue.

For the remaining portions of Bailey Power Plant, Wake Forest Innovation Quarter plans to work with additional developers to repurpose two smaller buildings, known as the Morris Building and Building 23-1, on the southeast and southwest corners of the property.

“We have interest from a number of developers so that’s good news,” Eric Tomlinson, Wake Forest Innovation Quarter’s president, said.

Investing in Innovation Quarter

In late December 2015, the City of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County agreed to put a combined $6 million behind the redevelopment of the Bailey Power Plant through a combination of public infrastructure and economic assistance reimbursements.

“This is exciting news, not just for Wake Forest Innovation Quarter but for the city as a whole,” Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines said. “Redevelopment of the Bailey Power Plant will give Innovation Quarter a key amenity that will bring more employers, more jobs and more economic development to Winston-Salem.”

Wexford expects to begin construction this spring. Portions of the main building are expected to be occupied late in the summer of 2017, while the entire main building and surrounding grounds will be completed by December 2017.

“This is an essential development,” Tomlinson said. “Bailey Power Plant represents the final stage in the repurposing of these historic former tobacco district buildings in Wake Forest Innovation Quarter. As with many other projects here, the new future for Bailey Power Plant is the result of a strong and fruitful public-private partnership that has included Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Wexford, the City of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, following the generosity of R.J. Reynolds in gifting the property to Wake Forest.”

Tomlinson said that Wexford will use historic tax credits to make this development possible, as it has with several other projects in the Innovation Quarter.

R.J. Reynolds donated the Bailey Power Plant lot and all structures on it to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in 2010, along with about $2 million for environmental abatement work, which was completed in 2013.

The redevelopment of the power plant will be Wexford’s fifth project in the Innovation Quarter. The company previously became partners with Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center to restore Wake Forest Biotech Place, [email protected], the Inmar headquarters and the 60-series buildings. The 60-series buildings will soon be home to The Bowman Gray Center for Medical Education of Wake Forest School of Medicine and new undergraduate biomedical sciences and engineering programs of Wake Forest University.

Overall, Wexford’s investment in the Innovation Quarter, including its plans for the Bailey Power Plant, stands at about $390 million.

“We are very pleased to, once again, be the developer of choice for this latest expansion of the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter with the redevelopment of Bailey Power Plant,” said Dan Cramer, senior vice president of development for Wexford Science & Technology.

Cramer said that Wexford is committed to creating opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses within the main building of Bailey Power Plant.

Exciting challenge

Partin said that the biggest challenge for Wexford in redeveloping the main building is that Bailey Power Plant was formerly a coal-fired power plant.

“That use necessitated a completely different type of design and construction than what you would see in a typical commercial lab or office building,” Partin said.

Still, Partin described the challenge as an exciting one because Wexford will be transforming “the power plant as it formerly existed to the new vision of a very dynamic lab and office building.”

He said he expects the design phase of the project to be completed soon.

He said that the number of tenants in the building will be determined by how much space tenants, including possibly restaurants, decide to take.

“Innovation Quarter has thousands of people a day down here and we want to make sure that the amenities are provided so that they can enjoy the space, not only while they work but (also) after work and on the weekend,” Partin said.

He said he believes that having the project next to Bailey Park with all its amenities and activities “will provide a lot of opportunities both for the residents at Innovation Quarter, for the employees who work in Innovation Quarter and also for the greater community who comes down to enjoy the space.”

Source: Winston-Salem Journal by Fran Daniel