Author: Laura J. Leonard
The much anticipated opening of North Carolina’s first Wegman’s grocery store is an achievement for two of DEQ’s important programs.
Through a coordinated effort with the Hazardous Waste Section, the Brownfields Program reached a brownfields agreement with ITB Holdings, LLC, which allows for the site’s redevelopment into a major grocery chain, hotel, retail and restaurant uses. ITB Holdings, LLC’s partnership with Regency Centers as Midtown East Regency-ITB, LLC has redeveloped the project with an estimated capital investment of up to $30 million, along with the creation of hundreds of construction and permanent jobs.
“There are a lot of properties that have been reused through the North Carolina Brownfields Program, but this project is particularly exciting,” said Brownfield Program Manager Bruce Nicholson. “Recycling this idled former industrial property into a Wegmans shows the Program’s tremendous potential for quality of life improvements both economically and environmentally.”
It started years ago when the 24-acre site at 2912 Wake Forest Road was initially developed in 1958 by Kellogg Corporation, a division of ITT, to produce telecommunications equipment. In 1987, following a merger, Alcatel was formed and became Alcatel-Lucent USA in 1996. The facility used electroplating operations to manufacture telecommunication transmission equipment until 1990. From 1991 to 2003, it was used to conduct research and development.
The site was sold in July 2003, and the 234,000-square-foot building and storage and maintenance buildings were demolished in 2012. For nearly 16 years, the property sat vacant and abandoned.
Despite its potential and economic prospects, there were challenges to its redevelopment. Groundwater and soil contamination were identified through subsurface investigations conducted in accordance with the operators’ Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permit.
Having a RCRA permit means the Division of Waste Management’s Hazardous Waste Section regulates use and monitors cleanup activities. Alcatel-Lucent (and later Nokia of America) maintained ownership of the environmental liability from compounds found through these investigations and aggressively worked to clean up the site. With Alcatel-Lucent (and later Nokia of America) as the responsible party, much of the site was cleaned up to acceptable levels and only remnant groundwater contamination remains.
"We continue to work closely with the responsible party to ensure continued stewardship through a committed groundwater monitoring program that safeguards the protection of human health while verifying cleanup,” said Mary Siedlecki, Hazardous Waste project manager. “Having a coordinated plan to clean up the site and consistently monitoring this progress has enabled the site to be reused for the benefit of the community.”
While the RCRA permit holder continued its cleanup efforts under the Hazardous Waste Section, in 2016, the property owner, ITB Holdings, LLC, applied for entrance into the state’s Brownfields Program, which allows for the redevelopment of contaminated sites with appropriately applied land use restrictions and mitigation systems as part of the Brownfields Agreement.
“Transforming this abandoned property that was once a major employer for Raleigh into a thriving shopping district has been a tremendous endeavor,” said Chris Widmayer, vice president of Investments for Regency Centers. “Midtown East brings jobs to the area, adds to Raleigh’s growing economy and introduces North Carolina to the Wegman family. In addition to Wegmans, we are excited to bring bringing Ashley Christensen’s newest concept “Project Xtra Crispy” and other great local and national retailers to the Midtown neighborhood.”