Bessemer City looking to attract population growth coming to Charlotte area through redevelopment

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BESSEMER CITY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — As more people continue to move to the Charlotte area, outlying towns and cities are looking for ways to attract some of the population growth.

About 30 miles outside of the City of Charlotte, Bessemer City has had its eye on an abandoned mill as a prime location for more housing and business space.

“We have been very proactive over the last couple of years planning for that growth,” City Director of Administration Josh Ross said. “There is a lot of transformation happing in Bessemer City.”

The Osage Mill sits in the center of the city’s downtown, taking up about 50% of its square footage.

“This was a centerpiece for employment and culture for Bessemer City up until the mid-1990’s,” Ross said.

The same structure that once attracted people to the area in the late 1800’s is now the focal point of re-growth.

Ross said the 260,000 square foot facility has been abandoned since about 2014.

“It had all of the components that we look for,” WinnDevelopment Vice President Aimee McHale said.

The Massachusetts-based developer, which has renovated about 40 historic buildings is taking on its first project in the southeast.

With the help from the city, Gaston County and a previous project developer, the property is being turned into 139 apartments and 30,000 sq feet of business space.

McHale said the redevelopment of historic mills had been popular in the northeast for decades, and developers are looking at the southeast for projects.

“More and more people are going to be looking at the Southeast and these mill conversions because one; population is booming and economic activity is growing, so figuring out a way to put these buildings back into active use are going to become increasing priorities in the places that they are located,” McHale said.

Ross expects the project to increase the city’s current population of 5,700 but about 8%.

Since the announcement, he said at least five small businesses have decided to open within walking distance of the mill.

“For us, this is more than just a place for people to live, really it is a part of the city’s culture, the city’s history,” Ross said.

Construction is expected to begin next year.

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