Council discusses zoning request for Dixie Mill

Published 7:37 pm Thursday, May 16, 2019

Dixie Mill may soon see regular activity again if rezoning for development is approved by the LaGrange City Council that would allow the former cotton mill to be converted into loft apartments.

On Tuesday, the LaGrange City Council considered a request to rezone 710 Greenville Street from G-I (general industrial) to C-1 (neighborhood commercial) in order to allow a developer to repurpose the former Dixie Mill structure as loft apartments. Since it ceased function as a mill, the building has been used for a variety of purposes, including storage. However, the city is hopeful that the new owner and developer will be able to breathe fresh life back into not just Dixie Mill, but the surrounding community, while maintaining the historic character of the area. 

“This is a mill redeveloper that has a proven track record throughout the southeast,” City Planner Leigh Threadgill said. “He has worked in Albany, Augusta, Columbus, some cities in Alabama, Greenville, Spartanburg — so he has a portfolio doing exactly this. Obviously with that historic tax credit [that the developer is pursuing], they are trying to preserve the existing Dixie Mill structure, which is a roughly 85,000 square foot footprint. It is two stories, so it is about a 4-acre under-roof floor area.” 

According to Threadgill, the developer plans to convert the space into about 103 residential lofts, and neighborhood commercial rezoning was requested in order to make it easier to build a mixed-use development, which would include some commercial development. According to information released in the meeting, the lofts are expected to be market rate to higher end housing.

“This is the housing type that we do not offer in the city of LaGrange,” Threadgill said. “It was identified in the gateway corridor plan as a priority project. It is on Greenville Street, which is one of our gateway corridors. It is visible from Lafayette Parkway, [which is] another one of our gateway corridors. It is, in my mind, a catalyst to other redevelopment in the area for that entire mill village. It is just super exciting.”

According to Threadgill, there are plans to preserve existing commercial buildings for flex space or commercial space to support the residential development. Mayor Jim Thornton noted that if the development proves successful, there are other mills in the city that could be similarly redeveloped for different target markets.

Council Member LeGree McCamey asked if there was any way that the city could incentivize the developer to build a passive park in the area near the development, and Threadgill said the possibility had been discussed. Another property owner owns a greenspace adjacent to the development, and Thornton also noted that the city owns property where Dawson Street School was formerly located, which could be converted into a park space. 

Council Member Nathan Gaskin asked if it would be possible for the city to construct a pedestrian bridge to connect the neighborhood and the new development to Lafayette Parkway near the Walmart Neighborhood Market. Threadgill said that there are plans for the city to construct pedestrian bridges, thought the connection for those communities that was previously considered took advantage of an existing bridge.

“There are plans in the gateway corridor plans for creating multiuse trails both on Greenville Street and Lafayette Parkway connecting — I think — on the Horace King bridge,” Threadgill said. “We’ve talked about other pedestrian bridges.”

Kelsey and Thornton both noted that better walkability could attract other development to the area.

“This is great in terms of a neighborhood grocery store,” Thornton said. “Of course, you have the farmer’s market there on the corner, which has really easy access, but if there was a better way to get pedestrian access to Walmart, that would be really super.”

The developer’s involvement with other local efforts to improve the area were also noted during the meeting.

“He has been part of the Three Point Revitalization dialogue that David Blackwell has spearheaded, and I’ve been to some of those meetings,” Threadgill said. 

The LaGrange City Council will meet again on May 28 at 11 a.m. at 200 Ridley Avenue for its annual budget meeting. It will hold a regular meeting that evening at 5:30 p.m. at 208 Ridley Avenue. The public hearing on the rezoning will take place on June 11 at 5:30 p.m. at 208 Ridley Avenue.