The City of Salem is pleased to announce a major economic development project with Valleydale Catalyst, LLC and its principles Ed Walker and Joe Thompson. The proposed $50 million venture at the former Valleydale Meat Packing and Processing plant will eventually bring more than 300 upscale apartment units and a variety of resort style amenities to the property.
“We are extremely excited to formally approve this investment in our great city,” says Salem Mayor Renee Turk. “Each and every council member truly believes that this will be transformational for all of Salem.”
The Valleydale property is a located on the corner of Indiana and 8th streets less than a half mile from the Salem Civic Center, Kiwanis Field, and the Rotary Dog Park. Walker purchased it in 2017 and he has spent the better part of five years trying to find a suitable use or tenant for the building.
“We’ve worked through dozens of possibilities over the past five years originally hoping to use state and federal historic tax credits,” says Walker. “Some were commercial and industrial prospects, but modern manufacturers and processors have very different needs and requirements these days. I knew it would be my most challenging project to date.”
The original 23,000 square foot facility was built in 1936 and in 1948 two additions were added to the structure taking its footprint to more than 120,000 square feet. It employed thousands of workers for decades until Valleydale closed the plant in 2006.
“The haphazard nature of the multiple additions made it impossible to walk from one end of the building to the other in a straight line, so we understand why finding a new tenant has been such a challenge,” says Salem City Manager, Jay Taliaferro. “It needs a lot of remediation from its prior use and let’s not forget that it sits in the flood plain.”
When Walker purchased the property five years ago, he said it would be a “tough puzzle” to figure out but promised that he would “be swinging for the fences.”
“I wish we could have preserved the building, but the historic tax credit oversight agency wouldn’t allow any new windows on any exterior sides,” he says. “This new Valleydale project in its identity, architecture and public space decor will celebrate the history of the company and the generations that worked there. Plus, the silver lining is that this project is four times more valuable to the city than any other concept.”
Walker and Thompson will invest at least $50 million in the site, and they plan to build between 300 and 330 units spread out in three buildings with amenities that will include a pool and terrace area, club rooms, a gym, dog run, car and pet washing areas, large greenspaces, garage, covered and surface parking, extensive landscaping, and many other features.
“We are thankful to be welcomed by the City of Salem in this dynamic public-private partnership,” says Thompson. “We will deliver a quality modern product, as typically seen in urban environments, combined with the sense of place and amenities realized in a suburban community. The marriage of these concepts will result in an apex-level experience for future residents.”
Within the last week, both the Salem Economic Development Authority and Salem City Council approved incentives that will make the project feasible and benefit Salem and its citizens in the future.
The three-tiered, $10 million incentive package will be funded primarily from revenue that is generated from the project. It will include a tax rebate incentive grant, a site development grant, and other considerations from the city like neighborhood streetscaping and the enhancement of public utilities. The present real estate tax assessment of Valleydale is $1.27 million. That tax value figure is expected to rise to more than $40 million at the conclusion of construction.
“This combination of incentives will provide the catalyst needed to enhance all of the East Bottom section of Salem,” says Salem Economic Development Authority Chairman, Dave Robbins. “The performance agreement also outlines good faith agreements to utilize local service providers and contractors during construction.”
“This agreement highlights the benefits of working with local developers who share short-term and long-term strategies that will benefit the community during construction and long after completion,” says Salem Economic Development Director, Tommy Miller.
Valley Catalyst, LLC plans to begin demolition and site preparation this December, as soon as the architectural and engineering plans are completed. By the spring of 2023, construction should be underway with a tentative completion date set for 2025.
“I want to thank all of the Salem leadership for the years of work we spent together trying to identify and pursue new life for this storied site.” says Walker. “Through it all, they have been stalwart, open-minded, conscientious, and disciplined.”
Walker is planning to rehabilitate the Peacock Salem building in Salem and he and his associates were responsible for rehabbing the former West Salem Body Shop on Main Street and turning it into a combination boutique hotel and restaurant that is now a downtown destination for visitors and residents. Thompson is a well-known regional real estate developer and consultant. He has a diverse development portfolio with several successful projects in the valley. Currently, he is working on an important revitalization project at the corner of Electric Road and East Main Street in Salem. This is their first joint venture.
“We have come together to aggressively pursue the redevelopment of the Valleydale site,” says Thompson. “While challenges exist, the opportunities are far greater.”