By   – Reporter, Triad Business Journal

The Whitaker Park Development Authority got a big win in 2018 when Cook Medical announced its intention to buy and occupy 850,000 square feet at Whitaker Park. But just under 1 million square feet remains to be redeveloped in the former R.J. Reynolds cigarette manufacturing facility.

R.J. Reynolds handed over the keys to the 120 acre, 1.7 million-square-foot campus in April 2017.

After donating the 13-building cigarette manufacturing campus to WPDA, Cook Medical, a medical device company, announced in June it would move its Winston-Salem operations to a portion of the facility in June.

The move is at best three years away.

Cook initially will occupy 300,000 square feet, and the company has entertained the idea of leasing out the remaining space.

But 850,000 square feet remains up for grabs.

The WPDA is led by Bob Leak, who also serves as president of Winston-Salem Business Inc., the city’s business and industry recruitment arm.

Attracting industry to the former cigarette manufacturing facility is a top priority in the new year, as Whitaker Park remains a prime development opportunity for Winston-Salem.

Before the donation, WPDA only had access to a 70,000-square-foot laboratory building at Whitaker Park that was donated by Reynolds in 2015. With complete control of the campus, WPDA’s marketing efforts have improved, and there have been reports of companies taking looks at the campus.

And in today’s market, having available space can be a bonus for companies looking to expand or set up shop in the region.

If the need for industrial space remains hot in the Triad, it should only be a matter of time before another company commits to the redevelopment of Whitaker Park.