City may help S.G. Atkins CDC purchase Nissen Wagon Works building

Nissen Wagon Works building located at 1539 Waughtown Street.

City may help S.G. Atkins CDC purchase Nissen Wagon Works building
September 15
15:58 2022

The City of Winston-Salem is considering helping S.G. Atkins Community Development Corporation acquire and revitalize the old Nissen Wagon Works building. 

Carol Davis, executive director of the CDC, made a presentation to the Finance Committee on Monday Sept. 12, detailing their plans for property located at 1539 Waughtown Street. Davis discussed plans to transform the abandoned site into a co-working warehousing space which will provide multiple businesses with the opportunity to use shared warehouse space without having to purchase or lease an entire building. 

“I believe this property represents an opportunity for our emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem, not just for co-warehousing but for co-working space and for adaptive reuse of a site that has been obviously in disrepair for a long time,” said Davis while going over plans for the site. 

After housing the Nissen Manufacturing Center for many years, the building was sold to Western Electric in the early ‘90s. While other businesses and corporations have occupied the space over the years, for over a decade the property has been deserted.

According to Davis, the current owner, MM Buggy Factory LLC, purchased the property last year. After accessing the building, they decided the project was more than they had bargained for. In December 2018, parts of the building collapsed after snow piled on the roof during a winter storm. “After reviewing the site in detail, they determined that this deal had some hair on it, so to speak … it was a little more than these for-profit developers wanted to get involved with because before you could lease any of it, you have to go in and do remediation,” she said. 

The property has a total appraised value of $530,300. In addition to the city, S.G. Atkins also plans to partner with other organizations, including those with access to the EPA Brownsfields program, to redevelop the property. The Brownsfields program provides grants and technical assistance to access and safely clean contaminated properties for reuse. 

Davis also mentioned using some of the profits from the shared warehouse space to fund other projects on the surrounding property, such as restaurants, a community garden, and recreational space. 

If the S.G. Atkins’ plan is approved as is, space in the warehouse will cost about $3 per sq. foot. Similar shared warehouse spaces are located in Raleigh (The Loading Dock), Charlotte (Camp North End), Atlanta, and Los Angeles. 

“If you keep that in mind that there is a strong revenue generating potential here, it makes this whole site a little more attractive,” David said. 

The S.G. Atkins CDC (Community Development Corporation) is a non-profit that strives to foster community-based leadership focused on revitalizing the neighborhoods surrounding Winston-Salem State University. The City has worked with the CDC before on their projects and had mixed success. 

The city helped with the development of The Enterprise Center, which offers affordable office space and business development resources and has been an asset to the community. However, the East End Masterplan, a plan designed to lead future development in the East Winston community, has been in limbo since 2018. 

Because the item was listed as informational on the agenda, the item did not require a vote. It is unclear when the committee will revisit the item. 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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