Sep 30, 2014 | In the News

September 2014 – Old, polluted dye factory becomes Eco-Industrial Park


North Carolina Sustainability Connection

Across the Southeast, manufacturing sites with industrial infrastructure capable of enormous productive potential sit unused and idol. These sites are the garbage piles that manufacturing left behind when corporations moved their operations overseas, to places with less stringent labor and environmental regulations. But Tom McKittrick, founder and President of Forsite Development, doesn’t believe in trash. With the help of a number of partners, Forsite Development took an abandoned, badly polluted, textile-dye manufacturing plant near Mount Holly and turned it into an eco-industrial park that has already become a hub for green-color jobs.

In August, McKittrick unveiled ReVenture Park, and received an award for “Excellence in Site Reuse” from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In his acceptance speech he noted, “Developing an Eco-Industrial Park on a shuttered industrial complex is an opportunity where the private sector, public policy and environmental interests align to promote the clean energy economy. We are transforming this liability into an asset – the essence of recycling.”

HISTORY OF THE PLANT



The problem with garbage is that hazards and treasures are mixed together, and separating them is hard work. Though the Mecklenburg County dye factory boasted impressive industrial infrastructure and beautiful views of the Catawba River, previous tenants had left toxic landfills that were serious environmental hazards. Industrial dye manufacturing processes often produces chemical waste products, and figuring out what to do with the hazardous byproducts has always proven challenging. When the factory was built in the 1930’s, Dyestuff Company took advantage of an absence of environmental regulation and dumped waste products right into the Catawba river, regularly dyeing the waters unnatural colors.

As environmental regulation became stricter, the plants’ tenants began storing waste in on-site landfills. This contained the problem until October 1980, when Martin Marietta Sodyeco reported that chemicals had seeped into the groundwater, and nearby creaks contained dangerous concentrations of toxic chemicals. The corporation fixed the leak, and bought up contaminated neighboring properties, but the landfills had become a serious liability. At the end of 1982, the Environmental Protection Agency declared the facility one of the most hazardous sites in the Southeast, and added it to the Superfund National Priorities List.

When Clariant Corporation purchased Sodyeco Inc. in the mid-1980’s, it inherited responsibility for the mess. Clariant spent over $40 million cleaning up the site, and properly disposing of hazardous waste. In 2005, Clariant ceased production at the plant, but environmental clean up continued. As long as the site remained on the Superfund National Priorities List of hazardously polluted sites, no new tenants could make use of 30,000 square feet of industrial space and 667 acres of land.

THE DIFFICULT ROAD TO REDEVELOPMENT



Around this time, McKittrick approached Clariant with his vision for environmentally-friendly redevelopment. Clariant liked the idea, and agreed to a rent-to-own agreement with Forsite Development. Forsite began working with Clariant and the EPA to expedite the clean-up process and get the site into good enough shape to be dropped from the Superfund list. At that point, the site would be eligible for brownfield status, which allows new tenants to locate on-site without taking on responsibility for the remaining contamination.

The EPA took the site off the Superfund list in February 2012, and soon after that, the state certified it for brownfield redevelopment. As part of the brownfield agreement, Forsite agreed to post financial assurance (estimated to be $12.5 million) to guarantee that funds would remain for the clean-up, no matter what.

As challenging as it was to meet the demands of federal and state regulators, the plant’s neighbors proved to be McKittrick’s greatest hurdle. Forsite’s original plan for the site included a 20-megawatt waste-to-energy power plant. The site would sort through Mecklenburg County’s trash looking for recyclables and suitable biomass for the plant, and then sell the electricity to Duke Energy.

In 2010, McKittrick worked hard to make sure all the necessary partners were on board, but he had not expected local environmental groups to challenge the project. Although Forsite’s plan would have doubled Mecklenburg County’s recycling, and almost every new landfill has some kind of waste-to-energy component to harvest methane, biomass gasification is controversial and poorly understood.

Local environmental groups argued that ReVenture planned to “burn trash.” Although this phrasing obscures the difference between the smokey, bad-smelling, traditional trash incinerator and a carefully-loaded gasifier that restricts oxygen and burns methane before it can be released, the phrasing succeeded in rallying community resistance to the project. Public officials became less enthusiastic, and Duke Energy was increasingly focused on solar projects for their renewable energy portfolio. The project lost momentum, and Forsite was forced to go back to the drawing board.

ELIMINATING WASTE THROUGH INDUSTRIAL ECOLOGY


After five challenging years, McKittrick finally unveiled ReVenture Park in August. Instead of the 20-megawatt plant, he has plans for two biomass units that will generate 3.3 megawatts between them. Rather than sifting through Mecklenburg County’s trash, one unit will run on the methane generated from a landfill in Tennessee and the other will generate methane from non-recyclable wood scraps and sawdust. Only about a sixth of the available 300,000 square feet of industrial space is currently being used, but already the park demonstrates how a healthy industrial ecosystem can eliminate waste and allow symbiotic relationships to form. The nine companies currently located on site are mostly in the start-up and research and development phase, and already they are figuring out how to work together.

Entogenetics received a grant from the US Military to create a ballistic vest using spider silk from genetically modified silk-worm. These worms will eat leaves from mulberry trees grown on-site. The leftover brush can be handed over to Waste Knot Wood, a company that turns scrap wood, like non-recyclable pallets, into a fuel source for the biomass power unit. The pyrolysis process will generate excess heat, which Duckweed Ponds plans to use to heat the lake where it will try and grow duckweed as an energy source. The pyrolysis process turns sawdust into biochar, a stable form of carbon that research suggests could be an important tool in rebuilding healthy soils and sequestering carbon. Newly formed FC Organics has plans to take the biochar that the plant creates and combine it with bokashi compost from the NASCAR Hall of Fame to create a high-quality soil amendment.

ReVenture’s industrial ecology mimics the way that nature produces no such thing as “waste.” Unused byproducts are quickly incorporated into other companies production processes, preventing the kind of build-up of hazardous materials that turned the dye-manufacturing site into a Superfund site.

ReVenture Park still has plenty of room to grow, and McKittrick says he gets calls every week from other companies that want to join the eco-system. For now, he can offer start-ups affordable rent, access to industrial infrastructure and room to expand. EV Fleet, a company developing the first highway-ready, electric pickup truck is already growing quickly. The park has become a hub for the kind of green-energy jobs that will help North Carolina decrease its dependence on fossil-fuels.

WHAT LIES AHEAD

ReVenture Park is still in its embryonic stage, but it is well on its way to become one of the corner-stones of Charlotte’s clean-energy economy. Forsite is working with the Catawba River District to create a new K-20 Learning Center, where students of all ages will come and learn about sustainability, recycling and alternative energy.
Forsite has also partnered with the Catawba Lands Conservancy to create a conservation easement on 175 acres along the Catawba River. The Carolina Thread Trail will run through this land, allowing the existing trail to connect with the US National Whitewater Center. Though placing land in conservation has attractive tax benefits, it also provides important habitat for local wildlife and allows humans to reconnect with the genius of nature. McKittrick knows that the child watching a spider spin its web may grow up to pioneer a more-ecologically friendly way of producing bulletproof-vests.

With ReVenture Park finally up and running, Forsite Development has begun to turn its attention to other underutilized manufacturing sites. McKittrick admits that he has learned a great deal from the project, and going forward will probably not include controversial waste-to-energy technologies in future plans. There is plenty of industrial infrastructure out there in need of recycling, and now he has the experience he needs to repurpose them for the clean-energy, zero-waste future that North Carolina needs.

nate@kairosdigital.com

nate@kairosdigital.com

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Gary Greene

Project Manager

Gary, joined the Forsite team in 2021 as Project Manager after 35 years of industrial construction and manufacturing experience. During his manufacturing career, Gary had a multitude of roles–starting in production and quality control, moving onto plant site utilities and finishing in maintenance.
 
As the plant maintenance manager, Gary coordinated maintenance and electrical teams to ensure that all plant operations and goals were achieved. Gary is responsible for Site and Project Management at one of Forsite’s largest industrial properties.

Bill Abraczinskas

Director of Environmental

Prior to joining Forsite, Bill spent 30 years in global environmental engineering firms prior to creating his own business to provide environmental consulting and engineering services to the industrial and commercial markets.
 
His background is in large-scale civil remediation projects involving design/build, earthwork, in-situ remediation, pump and treatment systems, demolition, thermal incineration, facility rehabilitation, and wetlands restoration. Bill’s strengths include guiding clients through compliance with regulatory agencies. Bill is currently shepparding one of Forsite’s largest Risk Transfer projects through demolition and remediation in order to be repurposed to Forsite’s needs.

Gerald Stroner

Facilities Manager

Gerry joined the Forsite team in 2017 as Facilities Manager at ReVenture Park in Charlotte, NC. Gerry supervises repair and upkeep of all buildings, equipment and vehicles, grounds maintenance and heavy equipment operations.
 
He also provides facilities management at our Edge Water Treating waste water treatment facility in Salisbury, NC.

Gerry is currently pursuing waste water operator credentials, and is developing drone photography services for Forsite.

A native of Big Bear Lake, California, Gerry is an army veteran with 11 years construction experience in earthquake country. He now lives in Huntersville NC.

Greg Coleman

Principal

Greg represents the perfect blend of mechanical practical ability and theoretical engineering acumen. A native of Northern Australia, Greg was compelled to hone his mechanical skills keeping farm equipment operational in harsh conditions.
 
Additionally, this mechanical ingenuity led Greg to study Engineering and pursue a career in the consulting business with companies such as URS and Geosyntec. Greg is the Technical Director for all of Forsite’s endeavors including power, wastewater, construction, decommissioning, demolition and environmental liability projects.

Bobby Glidewell

Staff Landman

Bobby Glidewell is a senior member of our land team responsible for the land acquisition of our projects. Bobby has over 30 years of experience in land management.
 
Prior to Forsite, Bobby worked for a Fortune 200 energy company as a Lead Land Services Representative. Bobby has also held senior land roles with numerous energy companies where he was able to manage the land efforts of natural gas projects. Bobby holds a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management from John Brown University. Bobby resides in Northwest Arkansas.

Drew Connors

Development Manager

Drew Connors is a member of our development team responsible for the research of new sites along with assisting with solar and battery storage development and engineering. Drew comes from a commercial construction background, where he was managing new build and renovation projects for clients in the financial services industry.
 
Drew studied at The University of Alabama in the pursuit of a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He then stayed at Alabama to pursue further studies in business and energy systems and received a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering as well.

Marijon Owens

Project Developer

MariJon (“MJ”) recently moved over to Forsite Renewables from Forsite’s risk transfer division. MJ is supporting the development of later-stage projects as they progress toward the start of construction. She brings a keen attention to detail and project management expertise to these projects, overseeing some critical path processes to ensure the projects are completed on time and under budget.
 
Prior roles at Forsite include Risk Transfer Project Manager responsible for supervising the demolition and remediation of a chemical facility site and operations manager of Forsite’s Clean Energy renewable natural gas facility at ReVenture Park. Additionally, MJ has served as project manager, logistics coordinator, risk manager, safety officer and quality proponent at various Forsite locations. MJ was raised on a farm in eastern North Carolina and studied in NC, TX and the UK, graduating with a BA in 1991.

Ann Haney

Director of Real Estate

Ann oversees the title and survey process and manages all land contracts. Prior to joining Forsite, she worked as a Real Estate Manager for solar development projects and a title analyst for wind development.
 
Prior to her energy career, she has 20 years of experience as a practicing attorney. Ann has a JD from Boston College.

Mark Albert

Senior Director of Development

Mark Albert is a senior member of our development team responsible for battery storage, engineering, and business development. Mark has more than 25 years of renewable energy sales and development experience.
 
Prior to Forsite, Mark was Vice President of Business Development for an international battery company where he was responsible for all sales and marketing, technical assessments, system modelling, and preliminary project designs for the company’s utility scale battery storage business. Prior to that, Mark served as Vice President of Development for a geothermal energy development firm where he was instrumental in the company’s growth over his 17 years there, negotiating and executing PPAs totalling $2 billion in revenues. Mark earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from Washington University.

Scott Donaubauer

Director of Solar + Storage Development

Scott has over 15 years of experience in the power and industrial sectors and is responsible for solar and battery storage as well as business development.
 
Prior to Forsite, Scott was a mechanical design & field engineer, and project manager. Most recently he founded an energy services company specializing in field services and startup & commissioning. Scott has a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Iowa.

Kenny Gunter

Director of Land Acquisition

With his prior experience as a Solar Project Developer, Kenny is mainly involved in early site assessment, and develops land acquisition strategies. He oversees all land acquisitions, and manages our landmen.
 
Prior to joining Forsite, he not only worked as a Solar Project Developer, but also managed landmen in both solar, and oil & gas spaces, and worked as a landman in the oil and gas development field.
Kenny has a BS in Finance from Penn State University, is a Registered Professional Landman, has a GIS Certificate from North Texas and is a Texas Notary.
 
 
 

Maegan Bean

Senior Director of Project Finance

Maegan Bean is a senior member of our finance team. Prior to Forsite, Maegan worked for a Fortune 200 energy company as a Director of Finance leading the team responsible for the financing of new ventures and as a Manager of Project Valuation leading a team responsible for the pricing and valuation of utility-scale wind, solar, and battery energy storage projects.
 
Maegan has also held roles with a focus on financial and statistical analysis in the aerospace/defense and actuarial consulting industries. Maegan holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Financial Economics from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a Master of Engineering in Project Management from the University of Maryland, College Park.
 
 
 

Keith Kurtz

Vice President of Development

Keith Kurtz is a senior member of our development team responsible for solar and battery storage development. Keith has over 15 years of renewable energy development experience.
 
Prior to Forsite, Keith held senior-level development positions with numerous renewable energy development and manufacturing companies, where he was able to lead the development of multiple gigawatts worth of utility-scale renewable energy projects. Keith holds a Bachelor of Science in environmental science from Oklahoma State University and a Master of Science in Applied Science from the University of Nebraska.

Kevin Day

President - Solar Development

Kevin has twenty years of experience developing and financing power generation facilities, including natural gas, wind and solar projects. Prior to Forsite, Kevin worked for First Solar as Director of Project and Business Development for the Eastern U.S.

Prior to First Solar, Kevin developed and financed wind projects at BP Wind Energy. Prior to BP Wind Energy, Kevin also developed wind projects for SilverPoint Energy, a company he founded, and was a Director of Project Finance for Panda Energy, a developer of combined cycle natural gas projects.

Kevin holds his BBA in finance, MBA and JD from the University of Oklahoma.

Michelle Skinner

Executive Administrative Assistant

Michelle Skinner is the Executive Administrative Assistant for the Forsite team. She serves as administrative support for the CEO, along with support for the COO and Director of Business Operations. Michelle is also responsible for Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable.

Prior to joining Forsite, Michelle spent 24 years with the Kraft Heinz Company in Massillon, Ohio, where she was responsible for payroll and administrative support to the Production Manager.  She also worked in the Administration and Human Resources departments.

Andrew Archer

Controller

Andrew Archer is the Financial Controller for Forsite. In this role, Andrew has oversight of the Accounting department, with responsibilities for the entire end-to-end accounting cycle of Forsite. This includes month-end close, financial reporting, budgeting/forecasting, cash flow projection, and developing internal control policies and procedures.

Prior to joining Forsite, Andrew spent 16 years in Real Estate Accounting with two Charlotte-based CRE firms, both as Director of Accounting. Andrew earned his B.A. in Economics and History before earning his MBA from FIU and an MBA+ Certificate with emphasis in Advanced Financial Reporting/Accounting from UNC Charlotte.

Andrew and his wife are originally from Jamaica. They moved to the US in 2003 and live in Gastonia, NC with their two sons and daughter.

Jenny Wesley

Paralegal

Jenny Wesley is a paralegal for Forsite’s legal department. She supports General Counsel and the Land Team with real estate transactions, titles, surveys, and more.

Prior to joining Forsite, Jenny worked for a law firm in Canton, Ohio for over 23 years where she provided real estate paralegal support. Jenny earned an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science for Legal Assisting from Stark State College. Jenny resides in North Carolina with her husband, daughter, and son. She enjoys spending time with her family, going to the beach, and hiking through the woods.

Joshua Smith

General Counsel

As General Counsel, Josh manages Forsite’s legal department. Prior to joining Forsite, Josh was the chief legal officer for a utility-scale solar developer.

Before that, he worked as a corporate attorney for Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP, a leading U.S. law firm, and served as an attorney in the Enforcement Division of the Federal Election Commission. Josh holds an LL.M from American University Washington College of Law, a J.D. from Nova Southeastern University and a B.S. from Florida State University.

Shannon Doster

Director of Business Operations

Forsite Development day-to-day operations are managed by Shannon Doster. Her responsibilities include financial reporting, executive support, human resources, marketing, and property management administration.

 

Offering over 20 years of experience in business management, accounting, sales and marketing along with her previous job for an international corporation, has gained Shannon experience in many business sectors. This coupled with her versatility has contributed much to Forsite ’s ongoing success.

Shannon studied Business Management at York Technical College. She has special training in Six Sigma quality and has earned a Green Belt Certification. Shannon is also a licensed Real Estate Broker and is a Notary Public for North and South Carolina.

Ryan Ford

Chief Operating Officer

Ryan is responsible for the operations, strategy and project management of Forsite’s risk transfer, renewables and clean energy business lines. Prior to joining Forsite in 2018, Ryan’s background was in Engineering and Project Management; specifically, large-scale engineering, procurement, fabrication and construction (EPFC) projects.

Ryan has spent significant time on major construction sites, supervising installation of the design of new construction including coal, combined cycle and nuclear power plants.

Additionally, Ryan has worked in various engineering management roles within the power industry focusing on all fuel types for major base load plants, including the newer Allam Cycle technology.

Tom McKittrick

Chief Executive Officer / Founder

Tom is the Chief Executive Officer / Founder of Forsite Development, Inc. and manages all aspects of the company’s operations. Tom started Forsite in December 2004 with the idea that there was a significant supply of vacant corporate surplus industrial facilities throughout the Southeast that could be acquired aggressively and then repositioned. Since starting Forsite, Tom has purchased over 7 million SF of space throughout the Carolinas.

Forsite’s most ambitious project to date is “ReVenture Park”, a 667 acre re-development of a shuttered chemical plant, currently listed as a Federal Superfund site into a “Renewable Energy Industrial Park”. The property, located along the shores of the Catawba River in Charlotte, NC has over 1.4 miles of river frontage and is the largest piece of underutilized heavy industrial property in the region. Once complete, this project is projected to create over 1,100 “green collar” jobs and over $900 million in new investment.

Prior to starting Forsite, Tom was a ten year veteran and Senior Vice President of Development for Indianapolis based Lauth Property Group. In July of 2001, Tom moved to Charlotte to open Lauth’s second regional office where he managed all build-to-suit, land development and construction activities that he and his team created in the Southeast.

Tom has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing and Finance from Ball State University. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Holy Angels (www.holyangelsnc.org).