‘Important moment’: IDA signs off on legal documents solidifying Danville’s White Mill project

Declared by the city manager as an “important moment” in Danville’s history, the Danville Industrial Development Authority approved several legal documents solidifying the White Mill redevelopment project during a special called meeting Tuesday morning.

“This is a pretty important moment in the history of the city of Danville,” City Manager Ken Larking said just before IDA members proceeded to sign off on the documents.

The former Dan River Inc. White Mill building at 424 Memorial Drive has been around for 100 years and has played a role in the community for a long time, Larking pointed out, before thanking city staff, the IDA and legal and financial advisors involved in bringing the $85 million project to fruition.

“This is a mammoth deal,” said IDA and city attorney Clarke Whitfield. “This involved bankers and lawyers in every time zone in the U.S.”

“Let’s get to work,” IDA Chairman Neal Morris said happily just before the board proceeded.

The 10 agenda items approved by the IDA included resolutions giving the go-head for leases, financial guaranty, operating agreements related to the White Mill’s redevelopment, the joint-venture partnership between the IDA and The Alexander Company, and other aspects of the project.

“Our next step is to close on financing for this project and move directly into construction,” Corrie T. Bobe, director of economic development and tourism for Danville, told the Danville Register & Bee.

She added that “we’re hoping to have financing closed very soon.

IDA members Kristen Barker and David Cumbo were absent.

All votes on the 10 items were 5-0 — except one. IDA member Philip Hall abstained from a vote on a resolution to approve and authorize a governmental certificate and guaranty agreement in favor of American National Bank and Trust Company to accomplish the restoration and rehabilitation.

Hall, who has family connections to the bank, abstained due to a conflict of interest.

During the meeting, Bobe recalled reading an old newspaper article from the time when the building was being constructed. Just 32 people worked on its concrete, mixing it onsite and transferring across the canal and laying the flooring for each unit.

“I am sure those who were involved in the construction of this building could not have imagined that this building would still be used,” Bobe said. “I cannot be prouder at this moment.”

During an interview late last month, Alexander Company Development Project Manager Dave Vos said redevelopment of the White Mill should begin the first or second week of this month.

The White Mill will be redeveloped into a multi-use project that will initially feature 147,000 square feet of commercial space and 150 apartments. Another 56 units are planned in a future phase.

The 150 apartments will be built on the top three floors of western two-thirds of the building and will include one-, two,- and three-bedroom units. Some will be loft style. The future apartments will be built on the top floors of the eastern one-third of the building.

The first floor and eastern one-third of the second floor will be reserved for commercial space, with the lower level of the building being converted into 219 interior parking spaces for tenants.

Construction of a riverfront park on four acres between the White Mill building and the King Memorial Bridge will also take place.

In addition, an easement over about 1.12 acres of land along the Dan River will allow for the extension of the Riverwalk Trail.

There are also plans to use the canal on the south side of the building as a whitewater feature, as well as plans to restore the bridge that spans the river from the north side of the White Mill to the former Long Mill site.

The Alexander Company and the IDA signed a memorandum of understanding during a ceremony in May 2021 at the Danville Family YMCA across the Dan River from the White Mill.

Entering into the partnership under 424 Memorial Drive LLC — instead of having the Alexander Company buy the property outright — allows the use of historic tax credits for the project.

The IDA owns the White Mill property, but the authority agreed to admit the Alexander Company into the ownership structure as part of the memorandum of understanding.

Officials also have a letter of intent from a tenant who they will not identify to develop the eastern thirds of the top two floors of the former Dan River Inc. building.

Article by John Crane | Register & Bee