A group of businessmen, including former NASCAR team owner Brittan Schnell, plans to develop a 101-acre sports training and event complex at the former White House Foods manufacturing complex in Lincolnton.
Whitehouse Extreme Sports Park would include a school and dormitory, motocross and BMX tracks, swimming, diving and other indoor sports, outdoor mountain bike and running/walking trails, recreational vehicle spaces and a hall for special events and meetings, according to Whitehouse Park LLC’s rezoning request.
Schnell declined to say how much the project would cost but said he has the financing to break ground the day after the county approves the project, which he hopes will be in early October.
The development group has scheduled a community meeting for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 22 at the site before an Oct. 5 public hearing.
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The site is on Whitehouse Drive, on the west side of Maiden Highway (U.S. 321 Business), north of Horseshoe Lake Road.
Virginia-based White House Foods opened its Lincolnton manufacturing site in 1970, using Lincoln County apples to make its applesauce, apple juice and vinegar.
The plant employed 240 workers and was the largest water user in Lincoln County. Gatorade also bottled its drinks there for its mid-Atlantic market.
White House closed the complex in 2009, selling some machinery and moving other equipment to Winchester, Va.
Two years ago, Schnell moved his 12-year-old Special Event Linen Co.’s 30,000-square-foot manufacturing operation to the vacant complex. The company makes tablecloths and napkins for the hotel-restaurant industry.
In the 1990s, Schnell, 51, of Denver, N.C., owned Schnell Motorsports. The team ran a handful of races in NASCAR’s top division with drivers Dick Trickle, Lake Speed and Phil Parsons, Schnell said.
In an interview Friday, Schnell said he saw the complex as ideal for youth sports and schooling. Son Brantley, 14, is a top national motocross competitor in his age bracket.
Whitehouse Park LLC plans to offer classes for 56 students in sixth grade and up using online courses from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., he said.
As far as sports, one of the site’s three main buildings has 40-foot ceilings, which makes it ideal for diving, he said. Diving and Junior Olympic swimming pools are planned.
A warehouse where Gatorade made its drinks can house six basketball courts or nine volleyball courts, he said.
Plans also call for sports rehab and therapy through OrthoCarolina and sports training programs.
Schnell said the site already has an irrigation system, utilities and seven deep-water wells, which helps lower costs. Existing buildings will easily fit planned classrooms and athletic courts, again keeping costs lower, he said.