Cooleemee Mill – What’s Next?

COOLEEMEE – What should Cooleemee be in coming years? More specifically, what should be in the old mill building along the South Yadkin River?

How about a micro-brewery? Or a skating rink and bowling alley? Maybe apartments or condos?

Efforts to restore the old mill include plenty of chances for public input on what it should become.

A public briefing on the Cooleemee Mill Project was held last week and residents were given an update on the renovation plans for the historic building. Mayor Lynn Rumley welcomed residents and told them the Cooleemee Historical Association proposed a mill renovation about 15 years ago.

“A majority of the people in this room tonight had ancestors that may have worked in the mill. It was the economic engine of this community. The idea is to turn it into a new economic engine for Cooleemee.”

The Cooleemee Mill closed in 1969 and had employed nearly 1800 workers in the 600,000 square feet facility.

Rumley said that a two year design phase was beginning which would include a comprehensive reuse development plan and an environmental study.

That work will be led by Mac Jordan of Sellers, Inc. who is responsible for redevelopment of the old mill in Saxapahaw.

Money to pay for the two year work will be $161,000 and comes from a grant received from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Jordan told residents that this phase of development would involve the Cooleemee community. “We want to know what it is you want your town to be in the future.”

Jordan said a workshop would take place in May for residents to come up with ideas on how to reuse the mill.

An environment study of the mill will begin soon and continue through May. Jordan said that study will investigate the site and report any potential problems such as asbestos, lead paint, or other environmental issues.

“This mill is unique to Cooleemee and part of the reason not to tear it down is that it is unique and can bring people in from the outside,” Jordan said.

Jordan’s group will study the mills feasibility and explore economics beyond the borders of Cooleemee.

“They’re going to be a lot of different ideas for integrating different uses for the mill – a multi-use plan is what we’re looking at developing.”

Rumley said that some of the ideas already mentioned for the mill included apartments, educational space, a charter school, movie theatre, bowling alley, skating rink, and a micro brewery.

Jordan said that Saxapahaw Mill is a lot like Cooleemee and it’s transformation began by residents asking what they needed in their community.

“You’re just starting,” Jordan said. “Where it will end up will amaze you.”

Money to pay for the two year work will be $161,000 and comes from a grant received from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Jordan told residents that this phase of development would involve the Cooleemee community. “We want to know what it is you want your town to be in the future.”

Jordan said a workshop would take place in May for residents to come up with ideas on how to reuse the mill.

An environment study of the mill will begin soon and continue through May. Jordan said that study will investigate the site and report any potential problems such as asbestos, lead paint, or other environmental issues.

“This mill is unique to Cooleemee and part of the reason not to tear it down is that it is unique and can bring people in from the outside,” Jordan said.

Jordan’s group will study the mills feasibility and explore economics beyond the borders of Cooleemee.

“They’re going to be a lot of different ideas for integrating different uses for the mill – a multi-use plan is what we’re looking at developing.”

Rumley said that some of the ideas already mentioned for the mill included apartments, educational space, a charter school, movie theatre, bowling alley, skating rink, and a micro brewery.

Jordan said that Saxapahaw Mill is a lot like Cooleemee and it’s transformation began by residents asking what they needed in their community.

“You’re just starting,” Jordan said. “Where it will end up will amaze you.”

Note: Article by Jackie Seabolt. Originally appeared in the Davie County Enterprise. Reprinted with permission.

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