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Old mill’s owner, town recognized for renovation efforts

Megan Sprague. Mooresville Tribune. “Old mill’s owner, town recognized for renovation efforts”. March 6, 2016.

Michael Bay, of Concord Global LLC, along with the town of Mooresville, have been given a pat on the back by the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association for their efforts in restoring the former Burlington Mills cotton mill south of downtown Mooresville.

The mill, now best known as Merino’s Home Furnishings Warenhouse, was bestowed with the “Great Transformation” recognition from the APA-NC in the in the 2017 Great Places in North Carolina awards program.

According to the application submitted by Mooresville Senior Planner Tim Brown, the mill began as Mooresville Cotton Mills in 1893, “ultimately becoming a manufacturer of cotton, wool, and synthetic fabrics for draperies, upholstery, toweling, and clothing.”

“The Mooresville Cotton Mills transformed Mooresville’s identity from a cotton depot town to a booming textile mill town,” said the application. “During the first half of the century, the Mooresville Cotton Mills built a successful industry and a self-sustaining mill village with its own stores, churches, music band, and athletic teams.”

Since that time, when Bay purchased the vacant mill in 2010, the facility has become a corporate office headquarters for Greenworks Tools, along with housing retailers and restaurants such as Merinos Home Furnishings, Main St. Antiques and Design Gallery, Gator Finishing, OleksynPrannyK, Terawatt Solar, and Alino Pizzeria. Additionally, in 2012, a 1.6 megawatt photovoltic (PV) solar plant was installed on the roof, with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte annually purchasing Renewable Energy Credits generated by the solar plant and leasing 24,000 square feet for solar technology research.

Bay said he is “very proud” of what’s become of the mill “in such a short time.”

“It was abandoned for 13 years, and now it’s full of life,” he said. “There’s office space, restaurants, a café, and retail locations, and a lot of charity events held there.

“I’m really proud this came together in about a five-year period.”

He added that it was “a pleasure to be recognized.”

Brown said that “Bay really does deserve all the credit” when it comes to the mill renovations, because “his vision really took it over the top.”

“We are so fortunate as a town, because there are so many places in the Piedmont community that had textile mills, and they are still sitting derelict today,” Brown said. “When the textile industry moved to the far east in the 90s, it left a lot of abandoned buildings.

“Bay has made a really great adaptive reuse of the site, and it is an innovative and vibrant mixed-use property in the community.”

Brown also pointed out that Bay has never asked for any economic incentives while transforming the mill property, only coming before town commissioners to ask for conditional use permits. He said that Concord Global estimates that gross retail sales generated on site in 2016 hovered at about $9 million and sales tax revenues generated from this total (calculated at seven percent) are estimated at $630,000.

Retail components have also been boasted to bring more than 1,000 visitors a day, and “secondary economic impacts are also generated by proximity to the historic downtown Mooresville and sports events held at the renovated, historic Mooresville Moors baseball field.”

“Every bit of success he’s had is to his own credit,” he said. “The tax value for the property has risen 284 percent, and the revenue the property generates is phenomenal.

“It’s a major economic success story.”

Great Places winners, including Bay, will be recognized at the NC League of Municipalities’ Town Hall Day at the State Legislative Building at the end of the month, as well as at the APA-NC Annual Conference in September. The mill will also be featured on the Great Places NC and the NC Chapter of the American Planning Association websites.

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