Fate Of Old Water Plant Could Be Decided In November

Old Smithfield Water Plant 2The fate of the 102 year-old abandoned Smithfield Water Plant could be decided in November. 

In August, the town council agreed to get estimates on the cost of tearing down the plant, located at the dead end of Front Street and adjacent to the Neuse River and Greenway. 

On September 8th, the Smithfield Town Council was about to review bids for demolition when a Selma man came forward saying he would like to purchase the property and turn the old plant into a brewery. However, no formal offers have apparently been made.

At the October 6th council meeting, Councilman Perry Harris said parking for a new town boat ramp would likely go in front of the water plant property. He asked the town seek new demolition bids and decide once and for all in November what to do with the property. The Council voted unanimously to come up with a plan before the Nov. 10th meeting. 

Previous demolition bids ranged from $85,000 to $94,280.

Sarah Edwards, Director of the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation (DSDC) said the building has great potential and said she would like to see the Town to allow more time to see if the property could be redeveloped. 

In November 2014, the Town Council approved a request from the DSDC to apply for tax credits for anyone who might develop the facility in the future.

Water Plant History
In 1911, the Town of Smithfield issued a $55,000 bond for the construction of the water plant after it was passed by voters. The 1911 bond also included work for water, sewer, and an “electrical light plant” which were considered to be vital for the towns growth.

The water treatment plant at the north end of Front Street was originally completed in 1913. The three story, three bay brick building had segmental arched openings, a corbelled cornice, and several one- and two-story brick additions.

According to state archive records from 1913, “E. R. Patterson recalled what a spectacle the strange men and machines made as they brought these new improvements to his sleepy and dark southern town.”

In September 2010, an arson fire at the vacant water plant caused minor damage. Smithfield Police said at the time a mattress inside the building was likely set on fire by a homeless person.  No arrests were ever made.