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From textile operation to apartments and more: $62.5M revamp eyed for Danville's iconic White Mill
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From textile operation to apartments and more: $62.5M revamp eyed for Danville's iconic White Mill

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The Alexander Company, which has been considering whether to buy the White Mill property along Memorial Drive, is proposing a $62.5 million commercial and residential redevelopment project there that would bring 300 construction jobs.

The proposed uses for the site would include 150 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments (with up to 100 more in the future) on the upper three floors of the building, 110,000 square feet of commercial space on the first floor and 219 interior parking spaces on the lower level.

According to the agenda packet for the Danville Planning Commission’s Monday meeting, the Wisconsin-based company is seeking a special-use permit on behalf of 424 Memorial Drive LLC and the Danville Industrial Development Authority for a mixed-use development in the Tobacco Warehouse Commercial Zoning District.

White Mill

A commercial and residential redevelopment project at the White Mill is on the agenda for Monday's Danville Planning Commission meeting. 

The four-story former Dan River Inc. industrial building was built in 1920 and is made of reinforced concrete. It is 832 feet long and 144 feet wide on a property of about 18.75 acres.

The agenda item for the 3 p.m. meeting coincides with an economic development announcement that city officials are scheduled to make at 10:30 a.m. the same day.

But city and company officials would not say whether the agenda item and the upcoming announcement are related. Danville Economic Development Director Corrie T. Bobe would not comment for this story.

Kendra Bishop, spokesperson for The Alexander Company, would not confirm whether the announcement was related to the agenda item.

“Unfortunately, I am not in a position to shed any further light on your questions in advance of the event,” Bishop said via email Thursday.

However, she said the company’s development project manager, Dave Vos, will be at the event Monday. The announcement will be held at the Danville Family YMCA across the Dan River from the iconic White Mill building.

Media members are invited to attend, but city officials are asking the general public to join virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. River City TV will be broadcasting the event live for the public.

Details

Danville Planning Commission Director Doug Plachcinski said he was under the impression that details on the commercial and residential aspects of the project would be announced at the event.

The project has an aggressive timeline, Plachcinski said.

“There will be application for historic tax credits due at the end of the summer,” he said. “That is what compressed the timeline.”

According to the agenda packet, the west end of the White Mill building would contain the entrance lobby, leasing office and amenities spaces for the upper-floor residential use.

The residential part of the project would employ at least two full-time on-site personnel and include multiple vendor contracts, according to the agenda packet. The commercial uses would have about 100 full-time and part-time employees.

Real estate taxes start at $50,000 in the first year and incrementally increase to $200,000 in five years and to $435,000 per year at the end of the property tax abatement period, according to the agenda packet.

The property yielded $11,293 in real estate taxes in 2020.

Also, the project partnership would donate about 6.2 acres of land to the city of Danville for the expansion of the Riverfront Park. It would also provide an easement of about 1.12 acres of land along the Dan River for extension of the Riverwalk Trail, according to the agenda packet.

In March, the IDA voted 5-0 to give The Alexander Company more time to decide whether to buy the White Mill property. The move was the third extension and shifted the deadline from March 8 to June 6.

According to an environmental statement on the building included in the agenda packet, the structure is “extremely robust and has held up very well.”

A survey of the building’s existing windows determined that 45% can be restored. The remainder of windows that are too deteriorated or were previously removed would be replaced with new ones 130% more efficient than the existing windows, according to the environmental statement.

“New mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems will be specified to exceed building code efficiency requirements,” according to the environmental statement.

Property history

In January 2019, the IDA, which is the city’s land-buying arm, approved an agreement with The Alexander Company for an option to buy the property for $3 million. The company has redeveloped at least 100 historic buildings and has performed new construction in several states.

The White Mill became one of about 70 properties owned by the Danville Industrial Development Authority in 2017. The quasi-government group purchased the building and surrounding properties when Danville City Council voted to give it the $3 million purchase price.

The historic building was once part of the sprawling textile operation.

The Alexander Company and Peninsula Pacific Entertainment pushed for a casino project at the site last year. The city instead selected Caesars Entertainment’s plans to bring a casino to another former Dan River Inc. site at Schoolfield.

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