The site of the former Valleydale meat packing plant is slated to become
a $50-million-investment with apartments targeted toward young
After a 35-minute closed session at the conclusion of the Oct. 24
meeting, Salem City Councilmembers emerged, announced the project
and unanimously passed a motion to authorize City Manager Jay
Taliaferro to execute a performance agreement with Valleydale Catalyst
Ed Walker and Joe Thompson were identified as the principals.
Plans call for razing the former plant that filled the air in Salem’s East
Bottom with aromas of bacon, ham and other smoked meats for more
than 70 years.
Walker promised the apartments’ amenities will include a pool and
terrace area, club rooms, a gym, greenspace, dog run, garage and
Mayor Renee Turk said work is expected work to demolish buildings in
December or January, with completion of the planned 300-unit complex
featuring three buildings within a three-year span or “definitely five
“Council has worked on this for weeks, as has the Salem Economic
Development Authority,” said Turk. “We’re excited and thrilled,” she
added. “We are glad to have that property finally to be developed.”
Councilman Randy Foley said, “This is going to be a transforming
project not only for Salem but the Roanoke Valley.”
Councilman John Saunders called the project “Monumental.”
Valleydale closed in 2006, after years of slaughtering, processing and
smoking hogs and cattle. At one time, it was one of the largest
employers in Salem and had 344 employees when closing was
Some of the employees had a couple of generations proudly working
According to then-Assistant City Manager Jay Taliaferro, Salem would
be losing about $135,000 in annual tax revenue.
Valleydale property sprawls across 12 acres at the corner of Indiana
Street and Eighth. In 2017, Walker and his firm came up with possible
use plans, including mixed use commercial, apartments and possibly a
pub. They planned to use historic tax credits.
In a Salem City press release on Tuesday, Walker said he spent the
better part of five years trying to find a suitable tenant or use for the
building. He said in his statement “I wish we could have preserved the
building but the historic tax credit oversight agency wouldn’t allow any
new windows on any exterior sides,” he said.
Walker promised the new apartment project “in its identity, architecture
and public space décor will celebrate the history of the company and the
generations that worked there. Plus, the silver lining is the project is four
ties more valuable to the city than any other concept.”
Thompson said, “We are thankful to be welcomed by the City of Salem
in this dynamic public-private partnership.” He added he and Walker
will deliver “a quality modern product.”
Economic Development Authority Chair Dave Robbins said the
combination of incentives “will provide the catalyst needed to enhance
all of the East Bottom section of Salem.”
Valleydale was established in 1936 by meatpacker Lorenz Newhoff Jr.
operating as Neuhoff Inc. The property was listed on the Virginia
Landmarks Register in 2018, and the National Register of Historic
Places the following January.
Smithfield Foods purchased Valleydale from the Neuhoff family in
1992, and retains the Valleydale brand. When executives announced the
closure, they told employees reasons for deciding to close included the
age of the Salem plant, distance from pork suppliers and new Smithfield
facilities in North Carolina. They described it as antiquated.
The property was zoned Heavy Manufacturing. At Monday night’s
Council Meeting, it was mentioned that the property is a “brown field”
with residues from years of processing, and has flood plain issues.
According to the press release, the project will have a $10-million
incentive package “funded primarily from revenue that is generated from
the project.” The present tax assessment is $1.27 million which,
according to the press release, is expected to rise to more than $40
Walker is still planning to rehabilitate the Peacock-Salem dry cleaners
building, he said. He and associate Brent Cochran rehabbed the former
West Salem Body Shop into a “boutique hotel” and restaurant.
People sang the “Hooray for Valleydale” jingle that featured dancing,
singing and marching cartoon pigs for years after hearing and watching
the company’s television commercials.
The Salem Museum has a record of the song among its Valleydale
memorabilia, including stuffed versions of the three original cartoon
pigs: Zoomer, Boomer and Zinger, as well as the later addition, a girl pig
The items were donated on behalf of the Valleydale sales office by Kirk
Barrett, former northeast sales director for Valleydale’s parent company,
The pigs were on the Valleydale water tank that stood on the Eighth
Street side. The tank was taken down around 2001.
Meanwhile, the Valleydale jingle remains in memories of area residents:
“The music goes zoom-zoom. The drummer goes boom-boom, and
everybody shouts, ‘Hoo-ray for Valleydale, Hooray for Valleydale, all
hail, it’s Valleydale.”