March 15, 2017

Work (Finally) Starts on Southern Mill

City Dope

Creature Comforts staffers check out their new digs.

After years of sputtering and stalling, construction at Southern Mill finally kicked off Mar. 6.

The mixed-use development will restore much of the deteriorating mill buildings located off Chase Street, converting them into commercial space as well as one- and two-bedroom apartments. Carter Broun of Millworks Holdings, which is overseeing the project, said work on the residential portion will likely begin in June or July.

In the meantime, crews will focus on the 35,000-square-foot restoration and build-out of "Building A"—home to the expansion of Creature Comforts Brewing Co. "We'll come in and do all the infrastructure work, pave the parking lots, put in all new water, sewer and electric," said Broun. "And we will build the building to a shell space—they will come in after that and start to put in equipment and things like that."

The plan is to get Creature Comforts access to its space by May. Because the commercial space is building out the shell of the building, compared with the more intricate work of the residential units, Broun said he expects to meet the deadline.

"Luckily with these buildings, there's not so much interior stuff that you have to worry about," added Broun, noting that even a partially collapsed exterior brick wall is a simple fix. "That's going to be [demolishing] the rotted wood and rebuilding from the ground up. Out of all the buildings, [Building A] is by far the most straightforward."

Once the crews get to the residential portion this summer, he said, construction gets more complicated. The build-out of the more than 100 apartments will be different for each one to accommodate the quirks of the historic mill building.

Built around 1900, Southern Mill produced denim for jeans and remained occupied for nearly 100 years. In recent years, the buildings have suffered under the weight of snow, heavy rain and disrepair. Millworks has been working on plans to redevelop the 18-acre complex for more than two years, racing the clock as the buildings begin to crumble. When completed, the apartments will be rented at market rate, per the requirements of federal historic tax credits received for the project, targeting young professionals and retirees as tenants.