Danville’s White Mill gets second chance
The $62.5 million, first-phase redevelopment of Danville’s White Mill into a mixed-use commercial and residential project on the Dan River marks a new beginning for the former textiles factory that was the most visible symbol of the city’s economic decline.
“It has become an eyesore and a reminder of the loss of our major industries,” says Corrie Bobe, Danville’s economic development director. “In its current state, the White Mill does not depict the true story of the growth and change that is taking place throughout the region.”
The 100-year-old former Dan River Mills plant has been vacant for more than a decade following the collapse of the region’s textiles industry 15 years ago.
Breathing new life into the massive, historic structure “is of significant importance to our community as it will further activate our riverfront and provide a high-quality space for people to live and work,” Bobe says.
Wisconsin-based The Alexander Co. Inc., which is developing the approximately 20-acre property, is completing architectural and engineering plans for the project, scheduled for completion in summer 2023.
It will feature 110,000 square feet of commercial space and 150 housing units, with another 100 housing units planned for later.
“We are setting aside over 20% of the apartments for workforce housing,” says Dave Vos, development project manager for The Alexander Co., based in Wisconsin.The project is being developed in partnership with the Danville Industrial Development Authority. “We decided to redevelop the building under a joint venture with the IDA in lieu of purchasing it outright,” Vos says.
The company is working with the IDA on commercial space as well as 216 parking spaces on the lower level. The city’s parks and recreation office also is in the process of planning for the approximately 75-acre Riverfront Park, which will abut the parcel.
The structure is “one that will last for many generations, and for me to witness its rebirth for a second life confirms why I think Danville is rapidly becoming a model for urban renewal,” says Alonzo Jones, Danville’s mayor.
Another plus is the fact that the upcoming Caesars Virginia casino, scheduled to be in operation by the end of 2023, will be about three miles away from the White Mill project, Jones adds, saying, “We will be able to provide a housing opportunity for recruitment and retention of their employees.”