New lease on life for aging textile buildings

Transforming mills into homes

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Bring up the word ‘textiles’ in the Carolinas and chances are many ears will perk right up.

Aging buildings that once housed a dying industry are getting a new lease on life.

It is a form of real estate being recycled.

As more people move to our community, it's always a challenge to find available residential space, and part of the solution is being in discovered at places that were written off in recent years.

Behind the surviving and aging smoke stacks, an aggressive comeback is underway.

Felecia Giles manages The Lofts at Noda Mills in North Charlotte. The old three-story cotton mill on North Davidson Street is home to 48 units showcased with brick walls and strong wooden beams.

“The demand is great. I have almost a two-year waiting list of people always waiting to move into the mill,” she said.

Thriving times meant big factories hummed loudly pumping the heart, soul and vital life’s blood in this region’s economy during the 20th century. Today refurbished textile mills are among the desired locales in a competitive housing market.

Early on, Donnie Hicks of the Gastonia County Economic Development Office bought in to the vision of renovating the city’s historic Loray Mill. What’s now a popular place sat in a state of decay for years, as crime challenged the neighborhood.

"So we were left with a lot of empty textile buildings in the last 10, 15 years," Hicks told WBTV. " I think it gives the city a sense of authenticity, and some preservation. It brings the building to some modern use."

Restoration appears to be a current trend considering how many empty textile factories dot our local landscape. Near 12th street in Center City, the advertised amenities of Alpha Mills can be found on its website. City views, a swimming pool, and a fitness center are among the attractive selling points.

Along North Brevard across from The Highland Mills Lofts, Brooks Sandwich House has been serving up burgers, dogs, and chili for the last 46 years. Scott Brooks embraces the growth in traffic. He said, “There’s a lot more residential than it has been. It’s amazing really.”

Public transportation is another game changer in this neighborhood. Back at The Lofts at Noda Mills, Hans Pierre is among those taking a leap of faith into our city’s future.

“The light rail is a four-minute walk from my door step. It’s exciting to be a part of Charlotte’s history considering how long this building has been around in the city,” Pierre said.

The building that houses Lofts at Noda Mills was built in 1920.

WBTV News has learned that living in local mills can run the gamut.

Some units have been designated as affordable housing, and other properties have rent that go far as much as 23 hundred dollars a month.

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