11:00 pm
Sun June 29, 2014

New Owners Get Keys to R.J. Reynolds Building

The buyers of the former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. headquarters in Winston-Salem officially took ownership of the building Friday.

Ron Caplan, president of PMC Property Group, answers a question during a press conference at the former R.J. Reynolds headquarters building in downtown Winston-Salem on Friday, June 27, 2014.
Credit WFDD photo by Paul Garber

Officials with PMC Property Group and Kimpton Hotels received the keys from Reynolds Tobacco president Andrew Gilchrist during a press conference on the ground floor of the building. Work is expected to begin within 30 days to transform the building into a boutique hotel, upscale apartments and a restaurant.

Gilchrist says he’s confident that Reynolds found the right new owners for the building.

The 85-year-old building has been mostly vacant since 2009. Joe Long, Chief Investment Officer for Kimpton, says he is impressed with how well the building has been maintained during that time.

Long estimated that the hotel will lead to about 250 direct jobs, and will also boost the surrounding community through purchases by hotel guests. The new owners bought the building for almost $8 million last month and plan to put about $60 million into renovations.

The Reynolds Building was constructed in 1929 and for more than 45 years was the tallest building in North Carolina. The 22-story former tobacco company headquarters served as a model for New York City’s Empire State Building.

The Reynolds Building (center) has been part of the downtown Winston-Salem skyline since 1929. In this picture it is flanked to the left by the brick Pepper Building (circa 1928) the contemporary One West Fourth Street (2002) and to the right by Winston Tower (1966).
Credit WFDD photo by Paul Garber

The sale represents a major transition not just for the building but also for the Winston-Salem community. Ron Caplan, president of PMC, describes the building as a focal point for the city. He says the renovation will maintain the building’s historical feel. But he adds it will also be upgraded for the digital times.

Jason Thiel is president of the downtown Winston-Salem partnership. He says the restoration of the 22-story building – which has been vacant since 2009 – will add vibrancy to the downtown. According to Thiel, the growth in residential development will spark new changes.

Work on the estimated $60 million renovation is expected to begin within the next 30 days. The new owners are hoping to open in the fall of 2015.