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Mayor Alonzo Jones joined with other local officials today in officially announcing a project partnership to redevelop the iconic White Mill building on Memorial Drive into a multi-use project that initially will feature 110,000 square feet of commercial space and 150 apartments. Another 100 apartments are planned in a future phase.
The joint venture between the Danville Industrial Development Authority and The Alexander Company includes other key components, including:
“This is a transformational project for our city, and it is only fitting that we make this announcement nearly 100 years after construction was completed on this building, which served as Dan River Mill No. 8, but we know better simply as the White Mill,” Mayor Alonzo Jones said. “With this partnership in place, we celebrate new life for this historic building that will serve us for the next 100 years.”
Permitting and preparation of bids for the various elements will begin immediately, with project completion targeted for the summer of 2023, which is the same date for completion of the casino resort at the former Dan River Mills industrial complex in Schoolfield.
The Alexander Company, which is a specialist in urban redevelopment and historic preservation based in Madison, Wis., has been studying the best use of the White Mill building and property.
“We're excited to have found a path to activate the White Mill as part of a redevelopment plan that embraces its prominent setting along the Dan River, and are eager to continue our partnership with the City of Danville and its Development Authority to realize that goal,” said Joe Alexander, president of The Alexander Company.
Neal Morris, chairman of the Industrial Development Authority, noted the irony that the White Mill served not only as a place to work for thousands but as a symbol of home, and now it will become a place of residence for many.
“The development of the White Mill is an exciting day for many of us due to many of our family members and friends working in that magnificent structure,” Morris said. “The Home of Dan River Fabrics sign on the building was visible as you entered the city from the east was especially nice if you had been away for a while letting you know you were home. The facility will literally be home to many people as they will have a residence there. Who knows, perhaps the HOME sign will again adorn that building as the White Mill comes back to life as a useful facility!”
The 150 apartments will be built on the top three floors of the western two-thirds of the building and will include one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. Some will be in a loft-style.
The future apartments will be built on the top three floors of the eastern one-third of the building.
The first floor will be reserved for commercial space, with the lower level of the building being converted into 219 interior parking spaces for tenants.
The first phase is currently projected to generate a minimum total investment of $62.5 million.
The Parks and Recreation Department is overseeing a planned four-acre Riverfront Park will adjoin the White Mill property on the east side. The park is in the fundraising and engineering phase and will include an urban splash pad that will double as an artistic fountain, small performance area, river overlook, custom playground area and river access.
Parks and Recreation also is overseeing the plans for a whitewater channel that will utilize much of the old canal system visible in front of the White Mill. The whitewater channel is being designed to allow control of the amount of water coming through the canal, which will make it appropriate for tubing, whitewater paddling, competitions and river rescue trainings.
The covered bridge that spans the river from the north side of the White Mill building to the former Long Mill site is being donated to the Industrial Development Authority by River Partners LLC. The Industrial Development Authority will use grants to abate asbestos and lead paint and remove the bridge’s metal panels.
The bridge will be used as a pedestrian bridge to connect the north and south sides of the Riverwalk Trail.