|Loray Mill Sold for Redevelopment|
On March 27, the internationally renowned Loray Mill in Gastonia was sold by Preservation North Carolina to Loray Mill Redevelopment, LLC, a development partnership, for historic renovation, the culmination of more than two decades of efforts to save the mill from demolition. Work will begin immediately on a $39 million certified historic rehabilitation of the mill, the site of a famous 1929 labor strike.
The preservation of the mill involved years of cooperation, negotiation and planning between Firestone Fibers and Textiles Company, LLC (the previous owner, donor and neighbor), Preservation North Carolina (the current owner), the development team, the City of Gastonia, Gaston County, and several extremely dedicated local preservationists. Firestone Fibers and Textiles, a subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas, Inc., donated the structure and surrounding property to Preservation North Carolina in 1998.
Once the world's largest textile mill under one roof, containing a staggering 600,000 square feet, Firestone bought the plant in the 1930s and ran it as a textile mill until closing it in 1993, when it relocated its cord manufacturing operations to a facility in Kings Mountain. Recognizing the mill's significance as a North Carolina landmark, Firestone donated the building and surrounding property to Preservation North Carolina in 1998, with the intent that it be redeveloped for beneficial use. This week, Firestone donated an additional 2.39 acres to the project to serve as a buffer zone.
The development of the massive, six-story mill has required a great deal of perseverance and vision. There were a series of false starts, but in 2003, the development partners expressed interest in the mill. In 2008, they had secured tentative financing when the economic crisis hit, and all plans came to a halt. The development team continued to seek financing for the project and last year obtained a commitment from HUD for an FHA loan guarantee. More than $20 million dollars in private equity will be leveraged by historic rehabilitation tax credits.
The rehabbed mill will contain market rate lofts, commercial office space, and amenities for tenants including a gym, pool and storage units. There are also plans for a restaurant and a permanent exhibit focusing on the history of the mill.
This project will be the catalyst for major revitalization for West Gastonia, an area that has seemed neglected to many locals since the mill closed twenty years ago. The Loray Mill National Register Historic District, which includes about 350 homes, will benefit from the development of the mill, as will other neighborhoods along the West Franklin Boulevard Corridor. Historic rehabilitation tax credits will be available for renovation in the Loray Mill Village.
The deal comes on the heels of nearly $13 million in two other historic preservation projects in Gastonia sold in 2012 by Preservation North Carolina: the 1920s Armstrong Apartments and the old Highland Memorial Hospital. Preservation North Carolina will hold a preservation celebration celebrating the three deals at the Conference Center in Gastonia on Sunday, April 28. To learn more about that event, or to purchase tickets or become a sponsor, please click here.