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Bleachery site 'creating identity' online

Rock Hill has launched a new website to help market the former Bleachery site to potential developers.

Rock Hill Printing and Finishing Co., commonly called the Bleachery, opened in 1929 in the former Anderson Motor building.

At one point, it was the largest cloth printing and finishing plant under one roof in the world.

It closed in 1998.

Since the city took ownership of the Bleachery property early last year, officials have selectively demolished buildings on the 23-acre site that were deemed structurally unsound.

Left standing are the powerhouse, an office building known as the Lowenstein building, a filter plant and a water tower.

The city also entered a voluntary clean-up contract with the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, and environmental data collected determined the site was in "pretty good shape," a consulting firm said in October.

Now, the website markets the Lowenstein building to potential developers.

The city paid The Hive - a business development center downtown that offers students the chance to work in web marketing and web design - $10,000 to create a website that would put all of the information developers typically require into a central location.

Sixteen students worked on the website last semester, and Jason Broadwater, president of Revenflo, the Internet marketing firm that oversees The Hive, said they used new ways to navigate data online.

One was the integration of interactive maps, he said.

The homepage allows visitors to view the regular GIS map or an interactive map with the site's story, pictures and potential development.

"Instead of going to a page of context, it's a map experience," Broadwater said. "Everybody uses Google Maps to get around these days. The usability of maps has come a long way."

The site focuses on the Lowenstein building, letting developers know the details: four stories with 40,000 square-feet each, the 4- and 20-mile proximity to Interstate 77 and Interstate 485, the 20-foot ceiling height and the loading dock.

The homepage also touches on finances, highlighting $40 million in planned tax increment financing that could be available and potential 25 percent state tax credits for textile mill rehabilitation.

In the past, proposed uses for the Bleachery site have included converting the powerhouse into a microbrewery, restaurant and entertainment venue; marketing some areas as restaurants or stores; and turning the former Lowenstein building into office space.

Using old images of the Bleachery with bright, contemporary colors was an intentional choice to show developers what a big part of downtown Rock Hill the site is, Broadwater said.

Such a website is necessary, he said, to "creating an identity in the global Internet marketplace," and will make it easier for the city to relay information to potential developers.

"Nowadays, people have done 80-plus percent of their research before they even come here," Broadwater said. "Now there is an opportunity for people to discover this and identify it from their own agenda and motivation as one of their top-five potential places.

"By the time we hear from somebody, they've already vetted it and know about it, and they can say, 'Hey, this is at the top of our list.' "