Almost 50 years after the shutdown of operations at the old Converse Mill along the Pacolet River, the site is being converted into 173 loft apartments.
The project has been underway for several years but has experienced some delays. Developer Britt Weaver said the $ 50 million project is expected to be completed by December 2022.
“The deal was ready to go in 2019 and was approved by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) when the general contractor pulled out. So we had to start all over again,” Weaver said. “It was difficult and expensive, but we did it.”
A wire fence is installed around the property and construction trailers are installed on the site.
When developers announced the project in May 2017, it was due for completion by the end of 2018 or early 2019. The project, called Converse Mill Lofts, on Highway 29 received state revenue and historic tax credits.
“It’s gratifying to see them doing this instead of having it demolished,” Spartanburg County Councilor David Britt said. “We must seize all the opportunities we have to renovate and revive our factories, which puts us in the position we find ourselves in today. It’s an opportunity to go back and relive history.
Britt said turning the old Converse Mill into loft apartments would help attract more growth to the east side of Spartanburg.
“We will continue to see growth on the east side of Spartanburg,” said Britt. “It is happening now and will help improve the quality of life.”
According to the National Register of Historic Places, the mill was first built in 1896 as Clifton Mill No. 3 and operated by Dexter Edgar Converse. The mill was destroyed in June 1903 by a flash flood. It was rebuilt later that year as a four-story brick complex.
Developer Scott Macdonald purchased the mill property in 2006 with the intention of turning it into residential space. The site has 35 parking spaces for visitors, 25 spaces for access to the river and 208 spaces for residents. The building’s large windows will be restored, with each loft measuring an average of 1,000 square feet.
Weaver said HUD’s historic renovation program was needed to help fund the project.
“We’ve also worked with the National Park Service to show what we’re going to do to get approval at a certain rate and we’ve applied that to the construction budget,” Weaver said.
The project is modeled after another factory restoration project called Loray mill lofts in Gastonia, North Carolina. Weaver said the project in Gastonia helped transform the area in 2006, bringing additional business to the city.
“The footprint is the same but (the old Converse Mill) is not as big as Gastonia’s,” Weaver said. “Gastonia’s is much bigger.”
Weaver said the hallways at Converse Mill Lofts will be wider than some of the other factory restoration projects he has done in the past. This is how the lanes will not have a “ bowling effect, ” he said. The ceilings along the hallways will provide natural light to filter through several floors.
“There will be bright light inside the building to create a welcoming atmosphere,” Weaver said.
Weaver expects all 173 units to be rented out within six months of the end of construction, but he wouldn’t say what the rent for the units will be.
The project design also includes a fitness center and swimming pool. Weaver said a picnic area will also be built near the Pacolet River.
Chris Lavender is the public safety and current affairs reporter for the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. He can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter @LavenderSHJ