New Elements revitalize struggling old mill village

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E.W. Montgomery Cotton Warehouse
Elements West rendering provided by Base 360

Elements West

STATUS: Leasing begins next month

Angela Bowers watches the construction across Guess Street from Solomon’s Temple Pentecostal Church, where she’s a volunteer. Just around the corner, in what was one of the city’s more notorious old mill villages, her son, T.J., was shot four years ago. He’s thriving today. So, too, now is Green Avenue.

Next month, leasing begins at 2 Waco St. on 60 units in Elements West in the former E.W. Montgomery Cotton Warehouse. Nick Gilley’s Base 360 general contracting company plans completion in November. His father, Jerry, is president of Three Rivers Valle, the developer of the $12 million project said to be Greenville’s first solar-powered apartment building.

Nick Gilley. Photo provided by Base 360.

“This was always the wrong side of the tracks, even to the effect that we couldn’t get financing because the good ol’ local boys who’d known Greenville their entire lives said, ‘No way we’re going to sign off on a project on Green Avenue,’” Nick says.

“It was horrible, drug-infested,” Bowers says of the 2.4-acre property that in the late ‘60s was converted to Section 8 housing before the gunshot-addled building sat vacant for nearly 20 years.

Seven years ago, the Gilleys saw opportunity in the 63,000-square-foot warehouse that housed a cotton-merchants company and brokerage from 1933 to 1962.

Saw-tooth skylights facing due north — among old architectural elements that remain — provided ideal lighting for classification. Ticker-tape quotes sent to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange determined futures prices for the cotton that earned Greenville its living — and the building its listing two years ago on the National Register of Historic Places.

The “classing” room is Elements West’s community space. The complex will also include a pool and cabana, among other amenities. In the green construction, 30 one-bedroom, 20 two-bedroom, and 10 one-bedroom loft-style apartments are priced from $950 a month.

E.W. Montgomery Cotton Warehouse
Elements West rendering provided by Base 360.

“There’s a great need for apartments in Greenville,” Nick says. “It’s getting satisfied obviously, but at our price point, for downtown, that price point truly is affordable housing. We’re providing a niche that’s not fulfilled.”

Bowers, 43, a lifelong neighborhood resident and nursing assistant at St. Francis Hospital, where her husband, Sam, works security, sounds happy about the pricing.

Dismissing gentrification concerns, she says, “We have to grow with the changes.”

Says Jerry Gilley, “The joy in doing historic renovation is bringing these buildings back to life — it’s a treat to take that building that’s been abandoned and to watch it literally come back to life.”

Read about other Upstate mills revitalization updates

Revitalized Taylors Mill will be ‘year-round’ gathering spaceConstruction begins on Judson Mill’s transformation into multi-use spaceFormer Larkin’s COO takes charge of Drayton Mills events spaceChapel aims to weave into Poe MillGreer Mill’s adaptive reuse project moving through rezoning processConestee Mill securing retail and office tenantsWoodside Mill, Greenville’s largest former mill, set for redevelopment—again

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