Such is the future for the former Woodside Mills building that has stood silent and empty alongside S.C. 8 in Easley since its closing 1990.
For several years, the massive building was used by Harry King, who purchased the old mill in 1992, as equipment storage. With his death two years ago, King passed the property along to his daughters, Sophie Clayton, Julia Norman, Popie Whitted and Nancy Tucker, Tom Whitted, husband of Popie, said.
Knowing that one day the historical site would be valued again, the four sisters ensured the building was maintained well and didn’t fall into disarray, he said.
“They were done with the property,” Whitted said. “And now they wanted to find someone to do something interesting with it.”
The one-time mill, which once was an important part of the community in providing jobs, homes and food for local families, caught the eye of The Landmark Group, a real estate development team who heard of the property from Spartanburg contacts, where they had developed other areas.
“We approached the city first, about a year and a half ago, with our plans for that property before we started pursuing it,” Jim Sari, a developer with The Landmark Group, said. “We don’t want to do something where we may not be wanted.”
Finding the support and encouragement of Easley leaders, the group begin researching the various levels of financing the project, and making plans for the building’s future, he said.
The Winston-Salem-based company, which focuses on reusing existing infrastructures and saving historical buildings, plans to start revamping the former Woodside Mills facility into multi-family housing units sometime in the spring, with completion of the project projected to be in 18 months, Sari said.
Easley Mayor Larry Bagwell said he is excited about the development of the old mill building.
“This has been a dream of mine,” he said. “I am thrilled to see this building restored.
“Let’s not forget the best thing – 146 (apartment) units under one roof,” he said.
While the goals of many people is to become homeowners, sometimes the time and circumstances are not right for the achievement of that goal and renting a residence is not only prudent, but necessary, Sari said.
The Landmark Group’s development of Woodside Mill into apartment units will not only allow a piece of Easley’s history to be saved and utilized, it will also provide affordable housing in the area, he said.
The 146 apartments will consists of one, two, and three bedroom units.
Dewayne Anderson, a developer who founded The Landmark Group, said that the leveling of buildings, such as the Woodside Mill, only adds massive amounts of debris to an area’s landfill.
“This is the ultimate form of recycling,” Anderson said. “We’re not filling up landfills.
“This is a win-win situation for us and for citizens.”
Even the facility’s landmark water tower will be restored and utilized in the project by providing water to the extensive sprinkler system running throughout the apartments.
Recently, city officials applied for, and was awarded, a $500,000 federally-funded community development block grant to aid in the renovation of the Woodside Mills property into apartments, Easley Administrator Jonathan “Fox” Simons, Jr., said.
The check for the funding was presented to city leaders Wednesday by representatives of the S.C. Department of Commerce.
“I am delighted to be able to present this check to (Easley),” Bonnie Ammons, assistant director of that department’s federal grants program, said. “The town will use these funds to help preserve the history of Easley.”
The Department of Commerce’s decision to award the funding to Easley was based on not only preserving a historical site, but also developing that location into affordable housing for the community, Ammons said.
“This will have a positive effect for the town,” she said.
The North Carolina-based Landmark Group, which has completed similar projects in ten other states, enjoys working in South Carolina because of the support the company receives, Sari said.
“We like South Carolina,” he said. “South Carolina knows how to use (community block grants) for the community.”
Sari said that during the construction process The Landmark Group would be using local subcontractors, while some builders would be coming into the area, staying in local hotels, dining in area restaurants, and making purchases from Easley businesses, during the estimated 18-month revamping of the building.
Either way, the work on Woodside Mills would also help boost the local economy, he said.
Cost for the renovation of Woodside Mills in Easley, which was originally opened in1948 as a cotton mill, is estimated between $19 and $20 million.