Back in the 1980s the Fonda factory was a bustling plant in St. Albans. Hundreds of workers earned a living pumping out plastic cups and paper plates. But seven years ago the Solo Cup Company owners shut their doors and the warehouse morphed into an urban eyesore.
"Just been sitting vacant to my knowledge," said Nick Hurt, the project superintendent.
Now, Hurt and his team have been hired to bring the 160,000-square-foot space on Lower Newton Road back to life. Cabot Cheese and a Canadian cardboard company, which makes cartons for Magic Hat, will split the space.
"We're really excited to have them," Hurt said. "It's a big project."
Belley Packaging plans to lease one-quarter of the facility. It will become the Quebec-based company's main distribution center for the Northeast.
Cabot will take over the remaining 120,000 square feet. The bare-bones building will be transformed into a state-of-the-art cheese aging facility. Cabot currently trucks its Vermont-made cheese out of state for the aging process. Retrofitting the warehouse will require the installation of an insulated roof and a massive refrigeration system. The project will cost $5.7 million. One-quarter of that will come from the Vermont Economic Development Authority.
Officials say the new St. Albans facility will help Cabot streamline production and ultimately cut costs. They also call it worthwhile investment for downtown St. Albans.
"It certainly means a lot for the building," Hurt said. "This is going to provide a good use. It's not creating a lot of jobs, but it's supporting a lot of jobs in the state."
Construction crews plan to finish up by Dec. 1 and all the cheese should be moved in by the end of the year.
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