White Mill project closer to getting off the ground
Danville’s highly anticipated $100 million White Mill redevelopment is starting to see positive movement.
In August, Danville City Council unanimously approved a resolution to apply for a $5 million state grant from the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Industrial Revitalization Fund, a move to help with gap financing of the renovation.
Danville has already received a $500,000 state grant, and the city is applying for a $1.7 million Land Water Conservation Fund grant to acquire seven acres and an abandoned bridge. It’s all part of the plan to create a whitewater channel in the canal, plus connect the former textile mill to the planned Riverfront Park.
It’s a joint venture between the Industrial Development Authority of Danville and The Alexander Co. The IDA will oversee parking spaces, development of 110,000 square feet of commercial space and exterior improvements to the eastern third of the property.
“Our goal is to have market-rate commercial space available to lease on the first floor,” says Danville City Manager Ken Larking.
The Alexander Co.’s portion of the project will include 32 workforce-priced residential units and 118 market-rate units.
The IDA and Alexander were expected to close on financing by mid-October, and construction will take about two years, says Corrie Bobe, Danville’s director of economic development and tourism.
The prominent white building once represented one of the Southeast United States’ largest textile operations, Dan River Mills, which shut down in 2006 after being sold the previous year.
But since the White Mill has sat empty, “the building became an ode to the past instead of helping us promote the incredible growth and transformation that is being experienced, not only in the city of Danville, but throughout the entire Southern Virginia region,” Bobe says.
However, with the forthcoming Caesars Virginia casino in the Schoolfield area, where the resort replaces another empty mill building, there’s been more interest in developing downtown Danville. Its importance to the region goes beyond economics, Larking says.
“Renovation of the White Mill into a mixed-use development with unique public recreation elements will be a huge psychological boost for our community,” he says. “It will take a longtime vacant building that was once very important to the community and bring it back to life.”
Associate Editor Robyn Sidersky contributed to this story.