Phase 2 of Loray Mill’s residential redevelopment coming soon

For more than a century that the Loray Mill has stood in Gastonia, the elevated windows on its far west side have offered the most striking glimpses of the surrounding landscape, with unobscured views of Crowders Mountain and Kings Pinnacle.

When the historic textile landmark was renovated in 2014, the residential overhaul focused on the building’s original core to the east, as 190 upscale loft apartments were carved out of the rugged brick and hardwood. But the mill’s owners say the long-awaited second phase of construction on the newer west wing will start later this year, finally making use of the vistas it provides.

The new 150,000-square-foot section will include 105 loft apartments that will mimic the 190 units already in place, renting above the market rate for the area. The success of the first phase has prompted the owners to stick with the proven mold, said Joe Lenihan, a managing partner with Loray Mill Redevelopment LLC.

Construction on the new units will get underway by the start of 2019 and, in all, take about 15 months to complete. Tenants will move in on a level-by-level basis, as each of the four topmost floors is finished.

“We already have the (architectural) drawings done, the mechanical and planning work done,” said Lenihan. “I will go right into raising the debt and getting the permits probably at the end of the summer, and we’ll be ready for construction by Christmas.”

Heavy investment

Lenihan, John Gumpert and Billy Hughes are the three major partners who formed Loray Mill Redevelopment and bought the mill for $660,000 in 2013, after working for years to secure financing to close the redevelopment the deal. Berkadia served as the lender, providing a $20 million loan that was guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration.

Other investors in the project included Chevron, through federal preservation tax credits, and the health care provider Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which took advantage of state tax credits that encouraged mill conversions.

The overall redevelopment of the property to date has cost about $45 million. About 85,000 square feet of commercial space was also created on the bottom levels that is now partially filled.

Taxpayers have chipped in, to an extent. Gastonia and Gaston County each committed to conceptually lease 20,000 square feet of the commercial space in the mill for 10 years, through independently structured deals. That has involved the two local governments collectively paying several hundred thousand dollars to date, though officials have embraced the benefits of the property becoming more of a thriving, tax-paying entity. Before its redevelopment, it was lifeless and bleak.

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(Gaston Gazette, 6/16/18)