VALDESE — An old mill is getting a new life as workforce apartments that should be ready before the end of next year.
Ned Fowler, president and CEO of Northwestern Housing Enterprises, said work on the former Houston Hosiery Mill, located at 108 Praley St., Valdese, has mostly been internal demolition. That means stripping out the old electrical wiring, plumbing and mechanical equipment to make way for the new that will support 60 apartment units. The apartments will consist of one- and two-bedroom units, he said.
Fowler said the apartments will be workforce apartments and eligible residents, for instance, will be fire and police personnel, teachers, nurses and municipal workers. Rents will range between $700 and $900, Fowler said.
In addition to taking out the old electrical, plumbing and mechanical elements, Fowler said some walls and ceiling structures are being shored up. He said most of that type of work is nearly completed.
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Fowler said construction on the apartment units will start no later than September. From that point, he said it will probably take 14 months to complete, with the anticipation of a completion date of around Thanksgiving 2024.
“It’s a labor of love and we’re excited about it,” Fowler said. “We think it’s going to be a bonus for the area.”
Fowler said historic elements of the former mill will be preserved, with some brick walls exposed, hardwood floors refinished and some ceiling elements exposed.
“We’re not only renovating it but preserving it under national standards for historic preservation,” he said.
Fowler said plans for the renovation have been approved by the state Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service. He said it also will place the old mill on the National Register of Historic Places.
Financing for the project has been secured on the $13 million development, Fowler said. The financing includes a significant bank loan and private equity commitment in exchange for historic tax and housing tax credits, he said. He said tax credits make up easily half of the development cost. Dogwood Health Trust, a nonprofit based in Asheville, has a $2 million investment in the project, Fowler said.
In addition, Valdese Housing Authority is raising housing bonds as part of the financing of the project, Fowler said.
This is the first project in Burke County for Northwestern Housing Enterprises, which has been in business since 1995, Fowler said. The mission-oriented nonprofit has built $100 million of housing in the state, including Alleghany, Ashe, Watauga, Wilkes, Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties, he said.