D.H. Griffin Tears Down Century-Old Pillowtex Plant

Thu September 01, 2005 - Southeast Edition

KANNAPOLIS, NC (AP) Billionaire David Murdock’s redevelopment of the former Pillowtex property became visible to the public Aug. 16 when the demolition of the century-old Plant No. 1 began.

At 5.8-million-sq.-ft. the plant is approximately the size of the Pentagon. D.H. Griffin Wrecking Co. is handling the demolition for Castle & Cooke Co., Murdock’s development firm.

Griffin Vice President David Griffin Jr. called it one of the nation’s largest demolition projects. The Greensboro firm imploded the old Charlotte Convention Center in June and was lead demolition consultant for the World Trade Center cleanup.

Demolition of Plant No. 1, including the former headquarters office, should take approximately a year. The landmark twin smokestacks should fall by year’s end, said Lynne Scott Safrit, head of Castle & Cooke’s local arm.

Murdock, owner of Dole Food Co., hasn’t revealed his plans, although University of North Carolina system officials have said the project includes a biotech complex.

Pillowtex Corp. closed in 2003, displacing all 7,650 workers in the largest mass layoff in industry history. Kannapolis is counting on Murdock’s plans to help rebuild its economy.

The work began at Mill 6 at Loop Road and North Main Street. Part of the mill dates from the 1910s, local historian Norris Dearmon said, although the area Griffin tackled first was added around the 1960s.

Archie Menscer walked by as demolition began. The Kannapolis man worked in Mill 6 for 43 years. He’s sorry the building had to go but hopes whatever Murdock brings will help the city.

“I’m looking forward to something great happening to the town,” he said. “We need it. We need it bad.”