Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland and Executive Director of Economic Development Susan Fleetwood presented awards last week to 15 North Carolina Main Street program participants. The city of Hickory and its project partners received the Award of Merit for Best Historic Rehabilitation Project for the transformation of the Lyerly Full-Fashioned Mill into the corporate campus of Transportation Insight.
"We congratulate these outstanding communities for their leadership in downtown revitalization," said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland. "For 37 years, the North Carolina Main Street program has championed the principles of effective downtown development and these award winners now join the ranks of a long line of transformative projects across our state."
The N.C. Main Street Awards Ceremony, held at the Don Gibson Theatre, recognized excellence in downtown revitalization in several categories. Award recipients were recognized for projects that span the state.
"These award winning communities have utilized their unique assets to develop programs that support the character of their community," said Liz Parham, director of the N.C. Main Street & Rural Planning Center, part of the N.C. Department of Commerce. "The rehabilitation projects have brought new uses to our vacant buildings, resulting in job creation, downtown living and a significant private investment in our historic districts."
The N.C. Main Street program helps small towns preserve their historic fabric and, using local resources, build on their unique characteristics to create vibrant central business districts. This year's award winners were chosen by a panel of judges from dozens of applications submitted by Main Street participants from across the state.
The N.C. Main Street Award in the Design category for Best Historic Rehabilitation Project was presented to the City of Hickory, as well as project partners driving redevelopment of the Lyerly Full-Fashioned Mill. The property owner is OHM Holdings LLC which developed the site to create the corporate campus for Transportation Insight, which previously occupied several buildings in downtown Hickory.
"Our goal is to create North America's largest and most reputable provider of value-based logistics services by Jan. 1, 2020. In an intensely competitive marketplace, achieving that goal relies on our ability to create a corporate culture that allows us to attract and retain the next generation of innovators and visionaries, thinkers and doers," said Transportation Insight President and Founder Paul Thompson. "For our company to be successful for the long term, that means we need to attract not just millennials, but members of a changing society that want to live daily in a vibrant community where they have things to do every day."
"With our new corporate campus, we wanted to create something really cool here in Hickory and become the preferred place to work," Thompson said. "At the same time, Transportation Insight has a commitment to the city of Hickory to help in its revitalization and re-invention as we continue collaborating to support the development of greenspaces, sidewalks and other amenities critical to this becoming an eclectic, livable community."
The architects were MHAworks Architecture in Raleigh. The building contractor was Neill Grading and Construction Company. The City of Hickory played a key role by developing a public parking area to serve the company's employees.
"We are so proud of Transportation Insight and proud to have had the opportunity to work with them in several ways on this project," said Hickory Mayor Rudy Wright. "This is what we have been talking about. People are starting to recognize our efforts and are saying look at what Hickory is doing."
The economic impact of Transportation Insight's historic rehabilitation of the former Lyerly Mill site is exponential on many levels. The former hosiery mill was vacant since the mid-1990s before Transportation Insight acquired the property in 2014 and successfully adapted 17,942 square feet of the mill and surrounding property into its corporate headquarters. The presence of the global third-party logistics provider and supply chain consultant in Hickory confirms the diversification of industry following the collapse of the hosiery and furniture industries in the 1990s. The company employs more than 400 people at its Hickory location.
Hickory Downtown Development Association administers the Main Street program for the City of Hickory. Since becoming a Main Street community in 2006, Hickory's downtown district has witnessed 15 facades redone and 53 building renovations. Downtown Hickory has experienced a net gain of 81 new businesses creating a net gain of 309 jobs with 20 businesses expanding their merchandise lines, square footage, and employee base. More than $34 million dollars have been invested in Downtown Hickory in the past ten years with more than 18,000 hours of volunteer time contributed in the past five years. HDDA has met the standards to be recognized as a Nationally Accredited Main Street program for nine consecutive years.
"Hickory Downtown Development appreciates Transportation Insight's investment to our downtown district. We share their philosophy of creating a vibrant community with a high quality of life for our citizens," said Hickory Downtown Development Association President Gavin Mitchell.
Lyerly Mill was constructed in 1930, and it is Hickory's only remaining two-story hosiery mill from this era. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in August 2007. Transportation Insight purchased the remains of the industrial property, invested approximately $10 million (including acquisition, building rehabilitation, furnishings, and upgraded technical equipment), and transformed a
former hosiery mill into a productive place of business.
Renovation of Lyerly Mill began with the removal of crumbling bricks, broken windows and deteriorating floors. Crews replaced broken bricks and cleaned every inch of the mortar on the building's exterior. In addition to replacing all of the 2,370 individual one-quarter inch thick glass panes, many of the metal window frames had to be refurbished, or in some cases, rebuilt completely. More than 90 percent of the wood in the building today has been reclaimed or refinished from its original state in the 1930s. Construction crews removed the original first floor completely and poured a new one within the 18-inch thick walls. Before crews poured the new first floor, thousands of feet of conduit were laid to deliver needed utilities to all corners of the building. Wooden floors in the building received three rounds of sanding, two coats of stain, one coat of white pickling and three coats of clear sealer. The metal vents on the roof are the original ones and they are fully functional now. Skylights were also constructed to match those on the building in 1930. By meticulously incorporating modern technology into the historic rehabilitation, Transportation Insight provides their employees with state-of-the-art equipment, an open floor plan concept contributing to advanced teamwork, and an atmosphere to be innovative in a creative space.
(L-R): NC Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland, Transportation Insight Vice President of Organizational Development Josh Walker, Transportation Insight Director of Marketing Lisa Farley, Hickory Interim City Manager Andrea Surratt, and NC Commerce Executive Director of Economic Development Susan Fleetwood
More information about Transportation Insight is available online at www.transportationinsight.com.
More information about the City of Hickory is available online at www.hickorync.gov.
More information about Hickory Downtown Development Association is available online at www.downtownhickory.com.
More information about the North Carolina Main Street & Rural Planning Center and its programs is available online at www.nccommerce.com/MainStreet .