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Historic North Carolina mill needs redevelopment

The Imperial Mill in Belmont, North Carolina, which has been in place since 1907, may be completely demolished within the next three months if the property is not redeveloped, the Gaston Gazette reports.

The complete demolition could be inevitable because the cost of maintaining the old cotton mill has reportedly become too much, according to Bill Carstarphen, president of Pharr Yarns, which owns the Imperial Mill.

“It’s a cost that the company can’t afford to keep on,” Carstarphen told the news provider.

Located on Hawthorne Street, the mill has been inactive for approximately a decade since the company stopped using it to produce yarn. Since then, the building has been broken into and parts of the roof have succumbed to old age, according to the news source.

One year ago, the Belmont City Council agreed to pay $9,000 for a study that would look into potential future uses for the facility. After examining the study earlier this year, council members decided that the only logical solution would be private use, with the presence of the city in part of the building being a possibility, according to City Manager Barry Webb.

“It showed a good potential. Timing was really the issue and the economic situation,” Webb told the Gazette.

Bob Clay of Clay Realty Advisors said that the lack of finances behind potential redevelopment projects has hurt the prospects for maintaining the historical site.

“Pharr has tried to be really good stewards of the property,” Clay told the news source. “All of them are agonized by the potential of losing a piece of Belmont history. That’s why so much time and energy has been spent.”

George Culver with Applied Abatement Concepts has demolished all of the additions to the textile mill and opened up all the windows that had previously been covered with bricks. In addition, Culver said that asbestos has been removed and the building has been restored to its original state.

It is important that asbestos be completely removed from the mill as exposure to the dangerous mineral fibers has been proven to cause a range of deadly diseases including asbestosis, lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that occurs in the tissues surrounding many of the body’s internal organs.

According to the World Health Organization, asbestos-related diseases kill approximately 107,000 people around the world each year.

Culver told the news source that he hoped the removal of the asbestos and other potentially harmful elements would make the mill more appealing to potential developers.

Clay added that he plans to check back in with any developers who previously showed interest to see if the building’s new appearance would increase interest.

“The hope was through the demolition process that there may be an opportunity to go back to some of the folks who had been interested in it,” Clay told the Gazette. He added that if there are no takers, the building will be completely torn down.

While there is not an exact timetable for when the mill could be demolished, Carstarphen indicated that he would not wait too long into 2011, according to the news provider.

Although it likely will not be reopened by Pharr for yarn production, Carstarphen told the news source that the Imperial Mill could be utilized as either office or living space.

“I really hope that somebody will come along that has the ability to save the building. Hopefully we won’t have to tear it down, but the chances are slim,” said Carstarphen. “It’s going to be difficult to keep the building, and we hate that. We’d love for the building to stay there. Textile mills are sort of what Belmont and Gaston County were built from.”

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