Drexel Plant
The Drexel Furniture Company in 1906



  • Drexel Heritage Furniture, Plant 1/Corporate Office closed its doors in 2001;
  • Property was leased to various manufactures/businesses through 2005;
  • Property was sold in 2005 to Westwood NC Inc.;       
  • Property was sold in 2008 to Mr. Fred Godley;
  • Mr. Fred Godley created Drexel Property LLC in 2013;
  • Demolition of the main structures started in 2013 with Mr. Godley stripping the property of all valuable/salvageable materials from the buildings;
  • North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources became involved due to a citizen complaint about the demolition of the property in May 2013;
  • Demolition of the structures stopped in May 2013;
  • Fines were administered by NCDENR to Mr. Godley for the inappropriate demolition and disposal of contaminated materials in 2013;
  • Mr. Godley paid a portion of the fines to NCDENR with zero coming to the Town of Drexel in December 2015;
  • Property taxes are delinquent for Burke County and Town of Drexel;
  • Mr. Godley had the forested portion of the property (back) timbered and sold;
  • Mr. Godley interested in donating the property to the town in lieu of paying delinquent taxes;
  • Town requested permission from property owner to have a Phase I Environmental Assessment completed on the front portion of the property – permission was granted by Mr. Godley;
  • Town received a rough estimate of $3.3 million dollars for cleanup of the property;
  • Phase I Environmental Assessment completed in February 2016;
  • All grant funding opportunities available for assistance of cleanup require the town have ownership of the property;
  • In May 2017, Town of Drexel acquired ownership of the property by paying all tax obligations to Burke County and Town of Drexel; the town was only then able to pursue funding for cleanup; State and Federal law dictate the standards for the clean-up, including where/how the debris can be relocated from the building site;
  • Additional fencing was placed where needed and old fencing repaired for liability purposes;

 Drexel plant employees

Drexel Furniture Company Employees Circa 1906

  • Additional environmental assessments have been completed through an EPA grant awarded to Burke County in 2017; Testing confirmed that all building material debris must be treated as asbestos contaminated.  This adds another layer of complication/expense to the cleanup and redevelopment; debris cannot be hauled/buried just anywhere;
  • Second estimate obtained for cleanup and hauling of the contaminated debris to the closest landfill accepting asbestos contaminated materials; estimate for the 31,000 cubic yards of debris to be removed was $3 million;  this estimate was just for landfill fees to accept the waste; there will be additional costs to haul waste to a landfill that accepts this type of material;
  • Old parking lot was closed to random parking for liability purposes;
  • Town of Drexel has partnered with Burke County, BDI, WPCOG, ElectriCities, Norfolk Southern and NC Railway over the past four years and is working diligently to obtain funding for assistance with cleanup and the future redevelopment of the property:

 Drexel 1

Ariel view of the properties 
** 2016 – NC ARC grant application to assist with sewer line infrastructure improvements on the property – application denied due to not having ownership of the property at that time;

** 2018 – CDBG awarded the town a $500,000 grant for assistance in cleanup of the property (funds are being held at this time in hopes of using to match other grant awards and accomplish more cleanup efforts);

** 2018 – EPA Cleanup Grant application submitted and denied (no awards in North Carolina)

** 2019 – ElectriCities SmartSite Grant application submitted and $25,000 awarded for assistance in additional assessment and marketing of the back portion of the property;

** 2019 – Brownfields Agreement requested; further assessments needed and more details of future plans;

** 2019 – EPA Cleanup Grant application submitted December 2, 2019 – award will be announced mid-summer 2020…   

  • March, 2020 - Conference call meeting with NC Division of Environmental Quality to discuss a possible site visit and Brownfield status; emphasis was placed on the expense of moving the debris off-site and requests were made for other options;
  • 2020 NC ARC grant awarded for sewer infrastructure rehab on the front property ($150,000) in April - rehab process will begin once some definite decisions are made regarding cleanup;
  • 2020 NC Department of Commerce - Rural Infrastructure Authority grant application approved ($647,100) for the building of water and sewer infrastructure to the back portion of property for future development;
  • April, 2020 - drone testing to better determine the amount of contaminated debris on property; better estimate calculations obtained and the same drone testing also gave better insight to areas of partial filling of debris;
  • May 2020 - back portion of property certified by ElectriCities as a SmartSite property and will be advertised and promoted by the ElectriCities program;
Drexel Properties Sign 2
  • July, 2020 - site visit with representatives from NCDEQ Solid Waste Division and Brownfields Division. NCDEQ explained reasons/concerns for burying debris onsite in previously designated area being a last resort. Representatives also explained the possibility of being able to use original building footprints as fill spaces for a portion of the debris per NCGS 130A-301.3. The previous drone testing results helped determine those potential low areas within the building footprints.
Potential Fill Areas- Volume Slide