Eastern Shore Land Conservancy Nearing Purchase of Phillips Pack - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy Nearing Purchase of Phillips Packing Plant "Factory F"

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Concept Rendering of Factory F (Photo: Eastern Shore Land Conservancy) Concept Rendering of Factory F (Photo: Eastern Shore Land Conservancy)

CAMBRIDGE, Md.- The Phillips Packing Company once employed thousands in Cambridge, but those factories fell silent decades ago.  Many were torn down, but some still remain, including Factory F.  The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy has ambitious plans for that property.

When the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy looks at the brickwork and even the rusting railings of Factory F, they see promise.

"Our use plan has congealed to include a microbrewery, oyster bar, market, kitchen business incubator, shared use office innovation hub, and event space," said Katie Parks with ESLC.

The Conservancy wants to take all 60,000 square feet and turn it into a food and farming exchange, to help new and current local businesses expand.  But why food?

"We're standing in this amazing place that provided food from this small community across the county, around the world.  It's an exciting opportunity to bring that back," said Margaret Norfleet-Neff, who works with Beta Verde, a company working alongside Cross Street Partners and the ESLC.

The project is estimated to cost $18.5 million.  Some in town, including business owner Tony Thomas, are skeptical.

"I think it's a wonderful idea, but to put that kind of money in it, I'm hearing 18 million dollars, to make it something like a Lexington Market, I don't think it will go.  I've been in this for 30 years.  To make anything work, you need people.  As far as Cambridge goes, I think it has enough restaurants and enough bars.  I think we need other retail besides food," said Thomas.

The Conservancy has already gotten letters of intent from several businesses, but it's looking for a few more before they buy the property.

"We need more users for the building. We need a user for the brewery space, and that could be a microbrewery or a distillery or a number of different uses.  We are also trying to identify entrepreneurs that may be interested in using the kitchen business incubator," said Parks.

By taking advantage of tax credits and working alongside Cross Street Partners, a national group that does these sorts of projects, the conservancy is optimistic the project will succeed and they will be able to find their potential tenants by their purchase deadline at the end of December.

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