The Old Creamery Gets Eco-friendly Make-Over

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 30, 2011

By Kathy Chaffin

As a boy growing up in Concord, Harris Morrison remembers riding his bicycle to the Cabarrus Creamery to buy ice cream.

He’s not the only one who is sentimental about the creamery. “It’s definitely a landmark building that figures prominently in the lives of locals,” he says. “Many people have fond memories of the building, in particular, coming to get ice cream with their families and friends.”

Morrison of Harris Morrison Company LLC — a real estate, development, investment and brokerage firm – is spearheading renovations to the facility. “Almost everybody that I’ve talked to is happy to see the building saved,” he says. “The older people like it for nostalgic reasons, and I think the younger people like it because old buildings are hip.

“The exposed brick and the edgy modern look on the inside is really desirable, and we have modern amenities throughout. It mixes the old with the new.”

Harris Morrison Co. has moved its headquarters to the 45,000-square-foot mixed development site, called “The Old Creamery at Church and Peachtree.” An open-air courtyard joins the two facilities, creating a gathering place for events.

In renovating the Cabarrus Creamery building and adjacent Coca-Cola Bottling Co. structure for office, restaurant and retail space, the company tried to make it as environmentally friendly as possible.

Morrison says doing what was best for the environment was one of the factors in renovating the buildings instead of tearing them down and building new.  “Anytime anyone can recycle a building,” he says, “I think that’s the most environmentally sound thing to do.”

Renovating the buildings instead of demolishing them meant they didn’t have to transport the debris off site and bring in new building materials, requiring more fuel and adding more pollution to the county’s already poor air quality.

“We buried debris from our demolition onsite,” he says, which saved the transportation and extra fuel that it would cost to haul that off. Then by burying the material on site, we took the dirt that came out of the hole and used it to backfill against the building which saved even more in fuel and energy costs.”

The company installed a white reflective roof as part of the renovation, which tends to deflect heat rather than absorb it, along with insulated windows, energy-efficient heat pumps and air conditioning units and drought-resistant landscaping, which requires no irrigation.

Construction on the Cabarrus Creamery building began in 1936, followed by the Charlotte Coca-Cola Bottling Co. in 1940. The creamery eventually bought the Coca-Cola facility and used it as part of the creamery operations until it closed in 1999. The two buildings remained vacant for about 10 years.

Renovating the two buildings will cost Harris Morrison Co. approximately $3.6 million when complete. The Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners approved an economic development grant for the project, giving the ownership group an 85 percent tax credit totaling almost $100,000 over five years.

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The Center for the Environment at Catawba College was founded in 1996 to provide education and outreach centered on prevalent environmental challenges and to foster community-oriented sustainable solutions that can serve as a model for programs throughout the country.