BESSEMER CITY, NC (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – As more people continue to move to the Charlotte area, outlying cities are looking for ways to attract some of the growing population.
About 30 miles outside of the city of Charlotte, Bessemer City has had its eye on an abandoned mill as the prime location for more housing and commercial space.
âWe have been very proactive over the past two years in planning for this growth,â said city administration director Josh Ross. âThere are a lot of transformations happening in the town of Bessemer. “
The Osage Mill is located in the city center of the city, occupying about 50% of its area.
âIt was a centerpiece for jobs and culture for Bessemer City until the mid-90s,â Ross said.
The same structure that once drew people to the area in the late 1800s is now the focal point of the regrowth.
Ross said the 260,000 square foot facility has been abandoned since about 2014.
âIt had all of the components we were looking for,â said Aimee McHale, vice president of WinnDevelopment.
The Massachusetts-based developer, who has renovated some 40 historic buildings, is undertaking its first project in the Southeast.
With the help of the City, County of Gaston and a former project developer, the property is being transformed into 139 apartments and 30,000 square feet of retail space.
McHale said the redevelopment of historic factories has been popular in the northeast for decades, and developers are looking for projects in the southeast.
âMore and more people are going to look to the Southeast and these factory conversions because one; the population is booming and economic activity is growing, so finding a way to get these buildings back into service is going to become a growing priority in places where they are, âsaid McHale.
Ross expects the project to increase the city’s current population by 5,700, but by about 8%.
Since the announcement, he said at least five small businesses have decided to open within walking distance of the plant.
âFor us, it’s more than just a place to live, it’s really a part of the city’s culture, the city’s history,â said Ross.
Construction is expected to start next year.