Developers Buy Mill at South River Property in Waynesboro - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Developers Buy Mill at South River Property in Waynesboro

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The property at the center of Waynesboro's biggest redevelopment project has changed hands.  A pair of developers bought the Mill at South River, a sprawling complex considered key to the future of the city's downtown.

Transforming a textile plant that shut down decades ago into a blend of apartments and modern employment is a challenging task. Now the challenge falls to a pair of new developers, but the city believes they have the financial resources and experience to get it done.

The Mill at South River is a campus, nearly 500,000 square feet of space, of former industrial buildings. It's already home to the health department, and an eclectic mix of light industry, offices and even a blacksmithing school.

Most of the buildings are still vacant, but a master plan calls for a major redevelopment to include a mix of housing and businesses. "We take it as a positive sign that we've had conversations with the new owners, and they seem to want to continue," said Jim Shaw, Waynesboro assistant city manager.  

The new owners, Blue Springs Development of Charlottesville and the Rebkee Company of Richmond, closed on the deal for $1.75 million.   

The purchase price was a few hundred thousand less than the city's assess value, and the previous owner invested $5.5 million on soil remediation -  removing solvents and other harmful industrial by-products from the ground.

"The previous owner did a lot of good things to set the stage for redevelopment there, through a remediation program," said Shaw. 

It obviously didn't add value to the resale of the property, but that environmental cleanup, flood-control work, and a mix of local, state and federal tax incentives could help make the long-term project more financially viable.

"It's simply valuable real estate that's underutilized at the moment. I would hope, and I assume, that the folks that have purchased it see that," said Shaw.

The Mill property is just a couple of blocks from Waynesboro's traditional downtown district and is also the proposed site for the Coldwaters Restoration Center.

Redevelopment is expected to take at least a decade.

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