Danville officials announce redevelopment of White Mill building into apartments, commercial space

Southside Virginia News

DANVILLE, Va. (WFXR) — Mayor Alonzo Jones joined other Danville officials on Monday morning to officially announce a partnership to redevelop the iconic White Mill building on Memorial Drive into a multi-use project.

According to a statement released by the City of Danville on Monday, May 10, this redevelopment will initially feature 110,000 square feet of commercial space and 150 apartments, with another 100 apartments planned in a future phase.

These are the Phase 1 plans for the White Mill project in Danville. (Photo: Courtesy Laura Ashworth/EconDev via City of Danville)

Monday’s statement says the joint venture between the Danville Industrial Development Authority and The Alexander Company features other key components, including those listed below:

  • An easement over approximately 1.12 acres of land fronting the Dan River for the extension of the Riverwalk Trail
  • Plans to use the canal on the south side of the building as a whitewater feature
  • Plans to restore the covered bridge that spans the river from the north side of the White Mill building to the former Long Mill site

“This is a transformational project for our city, and it is only fitting that we make this announcement nearly 100 years after construction was completed on this building, which served as Dan River Mill No. 8, but we know better simply as the White Mill,” Jones said. “With this partnership in place, we celebrate new life for this historic building that will serve us for the next 100 years.”

Since permitting and bid preparations for the various elements will start immediately, officials set a target date for the completion of the project as summer 2023, which is the same time for the completion of the casino resort at the former Dan River Mills industrial complex in Schoolfield.

The Alexander Company, a Wisconsin-based specialist in urban redevelopment and historic preservation, has reportedly been studying the best way to use the White Mill building and property.

“We’re excited to have found a path to activate the White Mill as part of a redevelopment plan that embraces its prominent setting along the Dan River, and are eager to continue our partnership with the City of Danville and its Development Authority to realize that goal,” said Joe Alexander, president of The Alexander Company.

This is a historic photo of the White Mill building in Danville. (Photo: Courtesy Laura Ashworth/EconDev via City of Danville)

Neal Morris, chairman of the Industrial Development Authority, took note of the irony that the White Mill not only served as a place to work for thousands, but as a symbol of home. Now, the historic building will become a place of residence for many.

“The development of the White Mill is an exciting day for many of us due to many of our family members and friends working in that magnificent structure,” Morris said. “The Home of Dan River Fabrics sign on the building was visible as you entered the city from the east was especially nice if you had been away for a while letting you know you were home. The facility will literally be home to many people as they will have a residence there.  Who knows, perhaps the HOME sign will again adorn that building as the White Mill comes back to life as a useful facility!”

The 150 apartments — including one-, two-, and three-bedroom units, as well as some in a loft style — will be built on the top three floors of the western two-thirds of the building. Then, the future apartments will be built on the top three floors of the eastern third of the building.

The first floor will be reserved for commercial space while the lower level of the building will be converted into 219 interior parking spaces for tenants.

According to the City of Danville, the first phase is currently projected to generate a total investment of at least $62.5 million.

These are the floor plans for the White Mill project in Danville. (Photo: Courtesy Laura Ashworth/EconDev via City of Danville)

A planned four-acre Riverfront Park — which the Parks and Recreation Department is overseeing — will adjoin the White Mill property on the east side. Even though the park is in the fundraising and engineering phase, it will include an urban splash pad that will double as an artistic fountain, a small performance area, a river overlook, a custom playground area, and river access.

In addition, Parks and Recreation is overseeing the plans for a whitewater channel that will take advantage of the old canal system visible in front of the White Mill.

The design of the whitewater channel will allow control of the amount of water coming through the canal, thus making it appropriate for tubing, whitewater paddling, competitions, and river rescue trainings.

This is the timeline for the White Mill project in Danville. (Photo: Courtesy Laura Ashworth/EconDev via City of Danville)

The covered bridge spanning the river from the north side of the White Mill building to the former Long Mill site is being donated by River Partners LLC to the Industrial Development Authority, which will use grants to abate asbestos and lead paint and remove the bridge’s metal panels.

The bridge will reportedly be used to connect the north and south sides of the Riverwalk Trail as a pedestrian bridge.

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