Drayton Mill’s resurgence as an economic engine for Spartanburg County hit a higher gear Thursday.
Developers of Drayton Mills Marketplace, a commercial complex under construction at the center of the 114-year-old mill’s property, revealed four tenants that will anchor the space, including an eatery by Greenville restaurateur Rick Erwin.
Spartanburg-based Melotte Enterprises and its new coffee business Mozza Roasters will have its corporate headquarters, roasting operation and a 16-seat coffee shop in a 4,000-square-foot space, developers said.
Lisa Muehlenbein, owner of Zen Studios, a Spartanburg-based yoga studio, will move her business into a nearly 3,000-square-foot space.
Illinois-based industrial developer Agracel has leased a nearly 1,400-square-foot space for its regional office.
The businesses are anticipated to open in early to mid-fall, developers said during a news conference Thursday at the mill.
“This was the vision of Roger Milliken,” said John Montgomery, principal of Montgomery Development, who is co-owner of the commercial property with Tara Sherbert, managing partner of TMS Development of Charlotte, N.C.
“It’s just the beginning of a long-range plan to create new apartments, homes, retail spaces and a new school in the Drayton community … This new commercial phase of the project is exciting. This will make Drayton a destination for Spartanburg.”
In 2013, Pacolet Milliken Enterprises, a private investment firm founded by shareholders of textile giant Milliken & Co., unveiled its plan to redevelop the former textile mill into a vibrant mixed-use facility.
Montgomery, whose great-great grandfather John H. Montgomery co-found the mill in 1902, helped lead the project forward.
The mill shuttered in 1994, leaving a gaping hole in the Drayton community and the local economy. Generations of residents in the mill village moved away to find work. Those who stayed watched as the homes and the sense of community they had enjoyed for decades crumbled around them.
Hopes were kindled in 2014 during a ceremony at the site, where state and local officials helped break ground on a 289-unit luxury apartment community, Drayton Mills Lofts. The apartment project includes a 60-foot lap pool, two-story fitness center and other amenities in the mill’s vacant spinning and weaving facilities.
In 2015, project officials opened a 2.5-mile walking trail constructed by Pacolet Milliken that spans from Mary Black Memorial Hospital to property south of the mill next to a meandering section of Lawson’s Fork Creek.
A renovation of the mill’s warehouses and company store began early this year after Montgomery and Sherbert purchased the facilities from Pacolet Milliken. The project is named Drayton Mills Marketplace.
“It feels like yesterday we were here for the groundbreaking and now look at it,” said Spartanburg County Councilman David Britt. “This defines the new Spartanburg. It’s a transformation that incorporates our textile heritage and vision for the future. This will change Spartanburg. Not only will it be a destination, it will be an example for other communities.”
Sherbert said leasing for the new apartments has already exceeded expectations.
“Our mission is to establish a live-work-play community unlike anything in Spartanburg and beyond,” she said. “The addition of these four new tenants will help us build on the work that has been accomplished so far and provide us with a solid foundation as we move forward.”
Erwin’s restaurant will occupy 7,000 square foot of the former mill’s Romanesque Revival company store.
Erwin said he and his staff are still developing the concept for the restaurant, but it will be the largest of his six dining establishments in the Upstate.
“We are incredibly excited about being part of Spartanburg,” Erwin said. “I’d like to congratulate all of the leadership for what you have done in the revitalization of Spartanburg. This project is incredible. We are tickled to death to be opening our sixth restaurant this coming November.”
Project leaders said the restaurant would be more casual than the company’s traditional steak and seafood restaurants. It will serve lunch and dinner, and the menu will be traditional American fare crafted from fresh, quality ingredients.
All of the commercial spaces will be open to the public, Montgomery said. Visitors will be able to park in a 200-space lot under construction off Drayton Road between Lake and Floyd streets.
Overflow parking will be available in a 500-space lot across the street from the mill.
Project officials said they are working with the S.C. Department of Transportation to install a traffic light at the intersection of Milliken Street and Drayton Road in order to provide safe crossing for diners, shoppers and trail users.
Montgomery said 13 spaces are still available for lease. He expects to announce more tenants in the near future, including a brewery that would occupy a large space that overlooks the mill’s pond.
The commercial spaces will connect with a plaza at the center of the property via covered concrete walkways and a boardwalk. The development will be easy to navigate and have ample outdoor seating.
Montgomery said the property’s proximity to downtown and the east side makes it an attractive location for local residents and visitors.
Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System will soon move its corporate offices into the former Beaumont Mill. The move will put hundreds of employees about one mile from Drayton.
Spartanburg School District 7 plans to build its new Spartanburg High School nearby, as well as a new elementary school in the Drayton area.
Pacolet Milliken owns about 240 acres around the mill. Project officials said the next phase of the development will include construction of a diverse mix of new homes in the community.
“We’re so excited about the future of Drayton,” Montgomery said.
Andrew Babb and Kevin Pogue of NAI Earle Furman represented the developers in the transactions with Zen Studios, Melotte Enterprises and Mozza Roasters and Agracel.
For more information, visit www.draytonmarketplace.com.