By Katie Reynolds, Staff Writer
Bailey Power Plant, known as the RJR smokestacks to most Winston Salem residents, is being converted into 103,100 square feet of unique office and retail space. The power plant ceased operations about 20 years ago. Located downtown near Wake Forest Innovation Quarter (WFIQ), it will house restaurants, trendy office space and an independent movie theatre. Developers are also considering to include a museum, entertainment venues and an “urban” grocery store.
RJ Reynolds originally donated the Bailey Power Plant lot to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in 2010, along with $2 million for environmental work which was completed in 2013. In March of this year, about two thirds of the power plant was purchased by Wexford Science & Technology for a $40 million project. In late December of 2015, Winston-Salem and Forsyth County agreed to put $6 million towards the project.
This is not the first project that Wexford has completed in downtown Winston Salem, previously restoring Wake Forest Biotech Place, the Inmar headquarters and the 60-series building.
It is envisioned that Bailey Power Plant will run on entertainment and Winston-Salem residents, rather than coal. The power plant was originally built in the 1920s to produce energy for the RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company. The power plant and its 14-story smokestacks have been an iconic structure in Winston-Salem for almost a century.
Wexford planned on developing outdoor communal spaces to complement Bailey Park. The remaining parts of Bailey Power Plant, which consists of two smaller buildings, will be repurposed by WFIQ.
Select construction began in 2013 and it was said that the selected space would be available for occupancy in early 2015. Complete construction and occupancy should be completed by December 2017.
Junior Ethan Green is very involved in downtown news and culture.
“My family is intertwined with the whole Krankies crowd and the whole warehouse crowd and I think I heard about it from J.B, John Bryan. He owns Krankies,” Green said. “I heard that he had a project he was working on about redoing the smokestacks and making them into a market.”
Green is also interested in the markets as he believes in supporting local businesses.
“I’m interested in going to shops there once they get that opened, because supporting lots of local artists and local businesses is kinda my thing,” Green said. “I think it’s really great what they’re doing over there. I hope that they keep the whole Winston Salem feeling and the old factory feeling, because to me the smokestacks incorporate Winston Salem.”
Developers of the project believe that the renovations will create a lot of great opportunities for residents and workers at the Innovation Quarter and for those in the community that will enjoy the new space.
Photo from Cross Street Partners