Leaves of glass

Chuck Tessier, lead developer of the Capital Center project on Patton Avenue, notes that the former First Union building will be stripped “down to the concrete” during the ongoing renovation. That means a lot of material removed from the seven-story building.

Another man’s treasure: Some remnants from the First Union building — soon to become the Capital Center — are finding new homes. In this file photo, developer Chuck Tessier stands amid the ruins. Photo By Jonathan Welch

Not satisfied with dumping all that mass, the development company, Urban Capital LLC, has been working to find new uses for anything form the glass panes to plumbing fixtures.

Many of those windowpanes will find new life as greenhouses due to the coordinating efforts. About half of the building’s windows have been removed, and already, would-be greenhouse builders are finding their way to the bounty of used glass.

“I had been looking for for recycled windows, and a friend tipped me off,” says Old Fort resident Courtney Rourk. Rourk is one of several people lined up to use the green-tinted glass for new hothouses.

Initially, the tint worried Rourk, but she took a sample to the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Fletcher. There, tests revealed that the glass let in enough light to be used for greenhouses. Since then, Rourk has snatched up 50 of the 6-by-3-foot panes. Building on her new greenhouses begins next summer. “We were just looking for some free windows. They were the perfect size,” she says.

But it’s not all about the glass.

“Anytime you go into an old building, there is always someone who sees something and says ‘That would be neat to have,’” said Chuck Taylor of Tessier and Associates, who coordinated donations for much of the building’s contents before demolition even began. “I just wanted to get rid of as much of that stuff as people wanted.”

Taylor contacted everyone from Habitat for Humanity to Asheville Baptist Church, finding new homes for furniture, filing cabinets and cubicles. Even the ceiling tile found a home.

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