Latest News

Rock Hill council takes no action on Bleachery deal after private meeting

The massive brick Rock Hill Printing & Finishing Co. building, better known as the Bleachery, could pose one of the area's greatest fire risks because of its proximity to homes and businesses. The inset photo shows firefighters trying to put out the blaze at the J.P Stevens No. 3 Mill in Great Falls. More than 1,200 nearby residents were evacuated as a fire in a plastic recycling operation in the mill produced toxic fumes.
The massive brick Rock Hill Printing & Finishing Co. building, better known as the Bleachery, could pose one of the area's greatest fire risks because of its proximity to homes and businesses. The inset photo shows firefighters trying to put out the blaze at the J.P Stevens No. 3 Mill in Great Falls. More than 1,200 nearby residents were evacuated as a fire in a plastic recycling operation in the mill produced toxic fumes.

Rock Hill leaders huddled Monday for another round of talks on the Bleachery, but a 90-minute negotiating session yielded no breakthrough.

The future of the massive textile mill site just outside downtown remains unresolved, though Mayor Doug Echols gave an upbeat message after emerging from private discussions.

"We've jumped the higher hurdles," Echols said. "Now it's just making sure (with) the nuances ... there's a clear understanding about what those mean for the long term."

City Council members left quickly after a closed-door session to consider a demolition, abatement and purchase agreement with lead Bleachery owner Will Simmons.

Simmons was a partner at the site with Lynn Stephenson, a Rock Hill developer who sought to revitalize the property as a mix of shops, offices and residences. When Stephenson died in October, Simmons stepped in to negotiate with city officials.

S.C. law allows elected bodies to meet behind closed doors to discuss contractual agreements.

Simmons owns a Clover demolition company but does not have a development background.

The agenda for Monday's City Council meeting indicated city leaders would discuss the purchase of property in the Textile Corridor and the demolition of "unsafe and unsightly conditions."

Echols said the basic tenets of an agreement are in place, though he would not comment on what the city's role would be.

The remaining work now belongs mostly to attorneys trying to resolve what Echols called "clarification of fine points."

"Some people might argue we've overdone our due diligence," he said. "I'd rather over-do it than under-do it."

Public money at stake

A key issue is how and when Rock Hill will tap into a special tax district set up to spur redevelopment at the site. The city has signaled it will issue bonds to help tear down the property, but officials have said they need guarantees the investment will produce results.

Demolition could cost more than $6million, according to recent estimates.

Once operated by Springs Industries, the Bleachery closed in 1998 and has sat mostly vacant as both an eyesore and fire hazard.

The 1million square-foot complex represents the centerpiece of the city's overall plans to redevelop the Textile Corridor - a collection of old mill buildings near downtown - into shops, restaurants and housing.

Echols was doubtful of reaching a deal in time for a public vote at Monday's regular City Council meeting. At that stage, the public would get its first official opportunity to comment on a proposal.

  Comments