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State brownfield grant to help pay for removal of hazardous materials at White Mill project in Danville
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State brownfield grant to help pay for removal of hazardous materials at White Mill project in Danville

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White Mill

The former Dan River Inc. White Mill site along Memorial Drive, where a $62.5 million commercial and residential project is planned, will undergo lead-based paint remediation.

A multimillion-dollar project to remove lead-based paint from the White Mill building will get a $500,000 boost from the state.

Getting rid of toxic substances will cost roughly $3.5 million and is one of the first steps in the redevelopment of this historic building that is scheduled to begin this fall, Danville Economic Development Director Corrie T. Bobe said.

Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday announced the grant from the Virginia Brownfields Restoration and Economic Development Assistance Fund.

Bobe said about 500,000 square feet of surface area will be blasted to remove lead-based paint. The Danville Industrial Development Authority and Madison, Wisconsin-based The Alexander Company would provide the remaining $3 million .

Alexander and the IDA in May signed a memorandum of understanding for a $62.5 million commercial and residential venture — under a joint 424 Memorial Drive LLC — for the White Mill property.

Lead-based paint remediation was not required under the memorandum of understanding, Bobe said, “However, this is a necessary action that needs to be taken to ensure the health and safety of future tenants.”

“The IDA and developer will contract with a qualified, licensed firm to abrasive-blast all painted surfaces to remove the lead-based paint and peeling paint, while preserving the substrate,” she said. “All spent media and removed paint will be containerized, characterized and properly disposed of in an appropriate landfill.”

The Environmental Protection Agency describes a “brownfield” as a property in which the expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.

Danville was one of six localities in the state to receive a total of $1.5 million to support restoration at brownfield sites. Martinsville will receive $399,000, and Altavista will get $181,100. Crewe and the counties of Charlotte and Pulaski also will receive funding.

The city’s brownfield consultant firm, Cardno, will manage the cleanup for a cost of $7,500, which will be covered through an EPA Brownfields Assessment grant, Bobe said.

Including the grant announced Friday, the IDA has secured a total of $1.4 million in total grants from the state and the EPA to help with brownfield remediation, including a $300,000 EPA assessment grant; $100,000 VBAF grant for Schoolfield and the White Mill; and $500,000 from the VBAF to remove lead-based paint and asbestos at the covered pedestrian bridge that crosses the Dan River.

“This is due, in large part, to the hard work and diligence of our brownfields consultants at Cardno,” Bobe said. “We have been able to utilize funding from each of these programs to conduct assessments of multiple brownfield sites throughout the city to determine if hazardous materials are present.”

The IDA owns the White Mill property, which is 600,000 to 700,000 square feet built in 1920 and formerly part of a sprawling Dan River Inc. textile operation.

424 Memorial Drive LLC will retain control of the property, and the White Mill building will be divided into three individually-controlled sections, with 110,000 square feet of commercial space, 150 apartment units (with an additional 100 units in the future) and 219 interior parking spaces.

Alexander Company will lease Phase I of the residential portion , and the IDA will lease the commercial part. The IDA will receive income from the commercial tenants and an additional 25% of the project’s stabilized cash-flow.

Site Collaborative, an architectural firm in Raleigh, North Carolina, that is designing a nearby riverfront park, will design the building renovation, too.

The apartments will come in 1-, 2- or 3-bedroom units, with 1-bedroom units renting for between $840 and $980 a month, and the 2- and 3-bedroom apartments will rent for $1,000 to $1,200 and $1,170 to $1,490, respectively.

A quarter of the apartments would be set aside to make housing available for individuals and families earning between $30,000 and $50,000 a year.

Plans also include restoration of the covered bridge that spans the Dan River from the north side of the White Mill to the former Long Mill site to be used by pedestrians and connect the north and south sides of the Riverwalk Trail. A canal on the south side of the building is planned as a whitewater feature and to provide about 1.12 acres fronting the Dan River for an extension of the Riverwalk Trail.

But there are hazardous materials involved in the bridge, too, and the IDA will use grants for asbestos and lead abatement and removal of the bridge’s metal panels, a news release from the city stated.

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