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Residential costlier option for Grey mill, report says

A report on the possible sale of the Grey Hosiery Mill suggests developing the historic property for residential use would cost more than using it for commercial or industrial use.

City Manager John Connet reported to the Hendersonville City Council the results of a "phase II environmental assessment" of the property.
"... The good news is that we will not be required to do any further testing or mitigation of the site as long as the property is used for commercial or industrial use," he said. Residential use would require further testing and potential environmental cleanup costs, he said.
The old mill on Grove Street is designated as a brownfield site. Brownfields are abandoned industrial sites that may be contaminated by hazardous chemicals. State and federal programs are available to clean up the sites and promote their redevelopment.
A brownfield agreement for redevelopment of the Grey Hosiery Mill site has been drafted. The draft could be completed within six months for a commercial use and within nine months for residential use, Connet said.
The difference in commercial versus residential use is potentially significant because two council members — Ron Stephens and Steve Caraker — voted in favor of an apartment project for the historic mill last summer. Mayor Barbara Volk and council members Jerry Smith and Jeff Collis voted in favor of a redevelopment for Wingate University space. That option fell through, and the council will talk on Thursday night about what to do next.
The city Historic Preservation Commission has recommended that the City Council place a conservation agreement on the property that would cover the 1915 and 1919 parts of the mill. (A 1947 addition is not considered historic but is on the site.) The agreement would require a developer to preserve structural elements, exterior elements and the roofline or replace those pieces if needed with "like materials." The conservation agreement would require the developer to retain all wood flooring and wood ceiling and restore windows to their original design.
Connet outlined two options for selling the property. The council could put it up for public auction, with a condition that the city would not have to accept the highest bid. Or the council could negotiate sale of the property to a nonprofit organization that would preserve the architectural and historical significance of the mill.
Connet posed a series of questions for council members as they weigh the options: "In moving forward the City Council should determine what is your ultimate goal for the Grey Hosiery Mill? Is saving the building important? What is the best use for this property? How will redevelopment benefit the rest of the city? How will we get a positive return on our investment?"