Redevelopments in the Works for Downtown Waynesboro - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Redevelopments in the Works for Downtown Waynesboro

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Two major redevelopment projects in downtown Waynesboro aim to transform old industrial buildings into a mix of housing and businesses, and developers say they're committed for the long haul.

A Charlottesville developer took the lead in the purchase of the Mill at South River property in Waynesboro. The firm, Blue Springs Development, also owns the former Cassco Ice Plant just two blocks away, and they view the two properties as one cohesive redevelopment effort.

The partners at Blue Springs see potential in the half-million square feet of the Mill at South River. The complex is already home to 27 tenants, as varied as trucking firms and glass-blowers. The future they see continues that vision of mixed-use development.

"We could easily have warehouse and manufacturing uses in certain buildings, and potentially down the road, residential uses in others," said Mark Green of Blue Springs Development.

The first steps will be to update the most rentable space, and later tackle the more challenging parts of the complex.

"It will probably take us eight to 10 years to fully realize a vision of what South River Complex can be. But we're committed to do that," said Kurt Wassenaar of Blue Springs Development.

The property's history as a textile plant brought with it contaminated soils, but the previous owner spent $5.5 million on a voluntary remediation.

"They spent an incredible amount of energy and treasure to fix what was a serious problem. I don't think it would have been a viable project without that," Wassenaar said.

It's within sight of another challenge: the old Cassco Ice Plant, looming seven stories over Arch Avenue. Wassenaar and Green plan to unlock this building's potential as contemporary housing with a rooftop restaurant. Waynesboro completed a study last year showing a demand for just such a use.

"Residents who work in Charlottesville sometimes come out to the valley area here for more affordable housing," Green said.

"There's a very strong market for residential housing downtown, which we're excited about because we didn't know whether it was going to be completely viable or not," Wassenaar said.

Blue Springs plans to begin work on the ice plant project around the middle of this year. The ice plant and Mill at South River properties both date back to the 1920s. That could make their redevelopment more financially feasible through the use of historic tax credits.

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