The COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed progress on the Judson Mill project, which will soon welcome new tenants to its 36-acre development. But opinions among area residents about the project remain mixed.
A country-based music venue is the latest addition to the mill, complete with a four-sided bar, a mechanical bull and space for up to 1,000 people.
Cowboy Up Nightlife is on track to open in late spring 2021. Developer Howard Dozier brands the venue as a spot for “new wave country,” although he plans to bring in a variety of genres: indie, folk, rock and more.
“I think there’s a lot of pent-up demand after COVID restrictions hopefully release soon, and I think I’ll be there in great position to satisfy a lot of people’s needs of getting out and enjoying life again,” Dozier said.
Development plans for Judson Mill include 204 apartments, 215,000 square feet of office space, 106,000 square feet of industrial space, 35,000 square feet of flex space and 12 acres of retail parcels. The property sold for $6 million in 2017 to Ken Reiter, a developer from Chapel Hill, NC.
Neighborhood reaction mixed
Norberto Moreno told the News on Friday the property taxes on his home around the corner from the development have doubled in the seven years he’s owned it. Now, Moreno wonders if they’ll go higher still, once Judson Mill is finished.
“I’m worried my taxes are going to go up. Well, I know they will go up,” he said, pausing to wipe sweat from his face while shoveling gravel in his driveway.
He also wondered how the narrow neighborhood streets will handle increased traffic.
“It’s going to be a mess,” he said.
As the mill development grows and investors buy up surrounding property, residents like Moreno expect prices to keep rising in an area where most one- and two-bedroom houses historically rent for less than $1,000 a month.
But for some local small business owners, Judson Mill is a good thing.
Christy Leaks, a manager of 14 years at MM Liquor Store, was succinct in sharing her thoughts o the development.”It’s awesome.”
“It will boost the economy, it will bring new residents. It will help us a lot here,” Leaks said.
Regina McCoy, owner of M&J’s Wings & Plenty, said the development is “great news.”
“It’s been a long time coming. It’s great for business relationships. It will bring diversity to the area,” McCoy said. “It’s great. We’re happy to be apart of it.”
Cowboy Up Nightlife isn’t the only new addition to Judson Mill.
Judson’s challenge:Providing homes for ‘real people’
Feed & Seed, a Greenville nonprofit, will have an 18,000-square-feet facility with a marketplace for chefs, commercial buyers and the public.
The YMCA will manage a fitness center for residents and offer community programming.
And, Rockoon Climbing Community will host 40 climbing stations, a café and 15-vendor retail space.
Residents will soon follow. Construction on the mill’s 204 apartments is roughly 70% complete, said co-developer Tom Taft Sr. of Taft Family Ventures, based in Greenville, N.C. The apartments will be ready for move-in March 2021.
Rental rates aren’t set yet, but Taft said the prices will be workforce housing — prices ranging from $1,000 to $1,500, aimed at young professionals, graduate students and middle-income workers such as teachers and health care workers.
Taft said the mill will be a transformational project for the Judson community.
“We think generating activities, traffic, community support will all be good for the community. How that impacts gentrification, I’m not sure,” he said. “That’s complicated.”
Macon Atkinson is the Greenville city watchdog reporter. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @maconatkinson.