Local News

Rebuilding, Restoration Of Lucky Strike Smokestack On Track

Posted February 27, 2002

— One month into the job, crews are making progress at Durham's American Tobacco campus.

In January, Capitol Broadcasting Co., WRAL's parent company, announced it would exercise its option to buy the historic property.

With more than one million square feet of space, there is plenty of work to do.

Before any construction can get under way, the old buildings making up the complex have to be cleaned up. That includes getting rid of any lead paint and asbestos that may be lingering in the old tobacco warehouses.

The asbestos removal is done by a glovebag method. The process is tedious and potentially dangerous.

Health concerns are a top priority. Workers wear protective suits with respirators and are monitored daily.

"All eyes are focused on this project and there's a lot more interest in getting it done," said Peter Anlyan of Capitol Broadcasting.

Two hundred feet in the air, the Lucky Strike smokestack is getting a major makeover, too.

Inside, decades of use left behind buckets of soot. The Bull City landmark is showing its age with more than 20 cracks running through it.

International Chimney, the same company that moved the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, is restoring the smokestack. Crews will spend the next six weeks repairing the damage.

"Wherever the cracks penetrate the brick, we'll remove and put new brick in," said Bob Larocque of International Chimney.

Workers have already removed the top 7 feet of the smokestack, which will be replaced and reinforced with steel bands.

If weather permits, crews could start replacing the bricks this week.

Even the rare, ceramic red and yellow brick logo will get a much-needed facelift.

When complete, the American Tobacco campus will be filled with shops, restaurants, offices and a health club. If everything goes according to plan, companies could be moving in in the spring of 2003.

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