The same developer that revitalized the White Furniture Building in Mebane is now working to create a new residential apartment complex and commercial space at the longtime Granite Finishing Mill manufacturing plant in Haw River.
The Lofts on Haw River, as the complex is to be named, will feature 175 apartments ranging in size from just under 650 square feet up to 1,900 square feet. There will also be a restaurant onsite, as well as a coffee shop, as part of a total of 7,800 square feet in commercial space. The project began in December of 2018 with the initial phase of construction.
In a recent tour of the construction project, Marques Miller, a sales and marketing representative with property management firm Trivest McNeil, explained that the developers are looking to begin renting the first units by the end of December and early January, with the project coming to completion around March.
“There’s a lot of floor plans,” Miller said. “No units have not yet been reserved, because the pricing hasn’t been locked in officially. Square footage is going to start at 644 square feet, and go up to 1,900 square feet, with most of the units having amazing river views.”
“This is definitely our first time taking on a project with commercial space,” Miller added, indicating that the onsite restaurant and coffee shop will have its own parking area. There will be additional square footage that could become a second restaurant on the property at some point in the future.
Along with the wide range of floor plans overlooking Haw River, there will be river access with a walkway that goes down to Haw River and back up to the apartment complex. Some of the upper-floor units will offer not only rooftop access, but also decks with spectacular views of the river.
“When there are not construction sounds, you can hear the water. It’s real pleasant,” Miller said. “This property stands out because of its relationship to the river.”
Granite Mill began in the 1840s along the Haw River as a cotton mill. It eventually grew as time went on and become a prominent fabrics manufacturing company, Granite Finishing Mill. According to D3 Development’s website (http://www.d3-development.com/granitemill/), the Granite Finishing Mill was one of the largest producers of corduroy during the mid-twentieth century.
“It was one of Alamance County’s largest manufacturers,” Miller explained. “In its prime, this place employed approximately 2,000 people. The Town of Haw River now is about 2,500 people. So it was a huge part of the community.”
Miller informed us that the Granite Mill facility at one time comprised of 22 buildings, taking up approximately 1.3 million square feet. Some of those original buildings, which include units across the street as well as the current Haw River recycling plant, are not part of the apartment complex reconstruction contract. Granite Finishing Mill shut down for good in the 1990s and was used for years as a storage facility for another company before being vacated.
A total of 12 buildings within the Granite Mill complex are being refurbished by D3 Development, a Durham-based firm, for the 175 apartments - all on the north side of East Main Street.
D3 Development, which oversaw the successful transition of White Furniture from an abandoned historic property into a thriving residential community, received a $5 million loan from the Town of Haw River as part of a public-private partnership between the developer and the community to modernize and repurpose the old mill.
The developer has also received State of North Carolina Mill Credits, a HUD-insured 221(d)(4) construction and permanent loan, as well as a Tax Credit Bridge Loan, as part of the $44.2 million project to revitalize the long-abandoned series of buildings along the Haw River on Main Street. Approximately $36.3 million of the project are qualified rehabilitation expenses, according to D3 Development’s website.
As was the case with the Lofts at White Furniture, there are painstaking efforts being made to bring the various apartment buildings up to modern living standards, while also preserving as much of the original structure.
There are many areas in the various buildings where the original hardwood flooring remains. Much of the original exterior - made largely of brick and stone - still stands. Numerous steel support poles and beams are still in place. Many of the windows overlooking the river have been in place for decades.
“We’re really trying to preserve the history of what this place brought to Haw River, and bring it back,” Miller said. “You can see the big smokestack - that will stay. The pool will be right beside it, and the gym will be right in front of it. We’re trying to keep as much of the original history.”
As part of receiving the various state and federal tax credits for the project, Granite Mill was approved to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Getting approved on the National Register of Historic Places meant that the project had to meet certain specific sets of requirements beyond the basic building codes to receive Certificates of Occupancy and allow renters to begin inhabiting buildings. Extra efforts had to be made to avoid destroying certain historical elements of the property.
“It is going to be historically preserved on the National Registry. So meeting that criteria comes with its own challenges,” Miller said.
Despite all the historical preservation, the units will be outfitted with modern utilities. The units - some of which will be two stories - will all have washers and dryers in them. There will also be Wifi throughout the various buildings, along with many other attractive onsite amenities.
“There will be a large community area, and there will be a large business center. There will be a fitness center and a yoga center,” Miller said.
With so much growth taking place in eastern Alamance County over the past few years, the Lofts at Haw River project seems to be a perfect union of meeting a local need while also preserving a local treasure.
Nobody wanted to see the Granite Mill complex fall apart beside the river on such prime real estate. But somebody had to figure out how to repurpose the 12-plus acre property. The Lofts on Haw River will allow this historic piece of Alamance County history to live and breathe again, while also providing another vital resource to accommodate the housing needs of a rapidly-growing area.
“I think you see that a lot of growth is happening in Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh. And there’s a lot of growth in the Greensboro and Winston-Salem areas, which is bringing a lot of growth to the middle areas - Burlington, Mebane, Haw River. Elon is growing a lot. Mebane is growing at a huge rate - really good growth. We’re hoping to help Haw River’s economy, and surrounding areas,” Miller said.