ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - Talks of revitalizing the 23-acre Bleachery property in Rock Hill have been going on for more than a decade. Now, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
The Bleachery Textile Mill employed about 5,000 people at one point. Located in between downtown and Winthrop University, the textile mill sat vacant and became dilapidated since its closure several years ago. Then in 2009, it was lit on fire - delaying its revitalization further.
After years of setbacks and plans, an end date - or reopening date - is in sight.
A handful of developers invested in the property. Rock Hill based Tuttle Company is one of them. President and CEO Skip Tuttle says it's the biggest project he has ever worked on but it's one that will have a lot of reward.
"One thousand people will live here, 1,000 people will work here and 3,000 people will come here every weekend," Tuttle said.
The developers are transforming the old textile mill property into a multi-use space, with a 170,000 sq. foot indoor sports arena as the focal point.
"Literally 3,000 people in the arena are 50 feet away so it's a huge benefit to people in the retail and hospitality industry," the company said.
The Rock Hill Sports and Events Center is being constructed next to the Lowenstein Building, which is a five story structure designated for office space. Companies have already moved into the top floor, more are moving into the fourth floor and more office space is available for leasing.
The White Horse restaurant in Rock Hill is planning to relocate to the Lowenstein building. It's doors will open to the 3,000 people who are in town for sporting events on weekends.
The space will also hold a medical clinic, Winthrop University physiology classes and a banquet hall for other events.
The Sports and Events Center is being leased to the city, giving them full operations of the complex. Sports Supervisor Brian Jones says it was the missing piece to Rock Hill's sport tourism facilities.
"We feel like we have a lot of amenities for amateur sports, of course Manchester Meadows for soccer, Cherry Park for softball and tennis and the cycling venues that we have," Jones said.
The sports arena will have eight basketball courts in a continuous space and one championship court that is surrounded by 1,200 seats. Basketball and volleyball tournaments will make up most of the weekends at the arena but it's not limited to traditional sports.
"The common sports you know the basketball, the volleyball, the cheer, the dance," Jones said. "But we've identified over 60 things that it could host from proms to larger gatherings to antique shows to nontraditional sporting events like cornhole."
The walls have barely been constructed, but already events have been booked nearly every weekend for the first 9 months the arena is open. It's expected opening date is in April 2019.
"Basically people are fighting over weekends, it's a good problem to have," Jones said.
Tuttle says hotels, a brewery and more restaurants will be built closer to the power point and smoke stacks on the property. That part of the development is expected to be finished by the end of 2019.
Student housing and apartments are expected to be opened between 2020 and 2022.
Tuttle says $200 million will be invested by the end of the project, $24 million is going into the sports arena. The company says federal and state tax credits were gr anted since the property is on the National Historic Register and is a former textile mill.