Construction of an indoor hemp growing facility in Lexington's Historic Depot District will likely begin in about 60 days after the Lexington City Council authorized at its Monday night meeting the submission of a Community Development Block Grant pre-application for the project.
William Volker, the CEO of Green Deacon LLC, has entered an agreement to lease the 33,000 square-foot second floor of Bull City Ciderworks building in the Depot District to install an indoor hybrid hydroponic hemp growing facility, which has not been named yet. It is considered the first indoor hybrid hydroponic grow operation in the state as part of the North Carolina State Pilot Hemp Program. The building is located at 599 South Salisbury St.
"We look forward to being a part of the Reinassance that is going on in the Depot District," said Volker, who lives in Raleigh, during a telephone interview. The building is part of the former Lexington Home Brands furniture company buildings that spanned about nine city blocks.
Volker requested Monday night the submission to the state of a CDBG pre-application to assist with the cost of building improvements. The new business represents an $800,000 to $1.2 million investment, Volkner said. Community Development Block Grants flow through the city and require a letter of support for the pre-application process and then a public hearing prior to full application.
Originally placed on the consent agenda, Councilman Joe Watkins and Garrett Holloway asked that it be pulled from the consent agenda so it could be discussed. Items placed on the consent agenda are approved without discussion. Once the indoor hemp grow facility is operational, it will employ 20-30 people with an average wage of $15 per hour, Volker said. In addition, a retail shop will be part of the new business and located in a small, rented space on the first floor of Bull City Ciderworks. "And there is highly skilled labor there," he said. "There is farming all around the city. Frankly, we love Lexington."
The location of the planned indoor grow hemp operation is fortunate, he continued, to be so close to Green Works, a plant science research, developing and processing facility with a concentration in areas of extraction and processing of hops and industrial hemp under construction in the Depot District.
"Green Works is not proposing a commercial grow operation but will be a perfect partner with complimentary synergies: testing lab space, business incubator resources, product and market research etc. after it is constructed. Green Deacon will be in full operation before Green Works construction is complete," he wrote in the grant proposal.
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