Thousands of spindles and looms once hummed in the vast halls of Spartanburg County’s Drayton Mill.
During its peak period of expansion and development, the 115-year-old former Milliken textile plant provided jobs for about 1,200 people and helped fuel the local economy.
But its recent resurgence as the centerpiece of a vision for a vibrant mixed-use community and a symbol of the county’s continued economic success earned the plaudits of one of the state’s top elected officials Tuesday.
“It takes a lot of confidence to do the kind of things that people in this community are doing,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “That’s all it takes — is that kind of vision and that kind of confidence and willingness to get out and work. Part of my job is to see that we don’t mess it up.”
McMaster was featured as part of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours event held at Drayton Mills Marketplace, the commercial portion of the 14-acre mill site’s redevelopment.
The governor said he wants to fix the state’s roads without raising taxes, and improve education by embracing new ideas and inventions pioneered by various types of charter schools.
“There are a lot of different ways to do these things — to get to where we want to go — that don’t cost a lot of money,” McMaster said.
He said he wants to ensure that regulations passed in South Carolina and at the national level are not hurting people and businesses that hope to grow.
“We want to get the regulations and taxes off the back of the people in this state and everywhere in the country if we can so that they can use their spirits, their talents, and their determination to go upward,” McMaster said. “There’s no place that’s got as much potential as South Carolina. We’ve got it all. And the main thing is our people… We’re making progress every day.”
The Marketplace is located within 60,000 square feet of warehouses built between 1902 and the 1950s. It also includes the mill’s former 10,000-square-foot Romanesque revival-style company store.
A renovation of the facilities led by Spartanburg-based Montgomery Development Group and Charlotte, N.C.-based TMS Development is nearing completion.
Illinois-based industrial developer Agracel Inc. has already opened its office in the Marketplace.
Three more tenants will move in soon.
They include Greenville-based Rick Erwin Dining Group’s new 7,000-square-foot concept restaurant called The Standard: A Refined Kitchen; Spartanburg-based Melotte Enterprises new headquarters; Bella Latte coffee shop and Mozza Roasters, a coffee roasting business; and Burn Boot Camp.
John Montgomery, principal of Montgomery Development Group, said he hopes to announce “several more” tenants in the near future.
Developers believe the retail and office amenities will complement Drayton Mills Lofts, the residential portion of the development featuring 289 luxury apartments in the mill’s old spinning and weaving plants, a fitness studio, pool, and walking trail.
They hope the mill’s revitalization, as well as a new Spartanburg School District 7 elementary school being built nearby, will make it a magnet for activity and help drive new development and prosperity in the surrounding mill village.
Tara Sherbert, managing partner of TMS Development, said the vision for Drayton Mills is to create a “live, work, play” environment.
During the event, the developers announced the television series “Jazzy Vegetarian” will film its sixth season at the mill. Filming is expected to begin in May, with the season premier scheduled for Sept. 15.
Vegan chef Laura Theodore hosts the show, which airs on Create TV. Musical guests like Laura Cheadle and Broadway choreographer Chase Brock will accompany her.
“Cooking up some of my personal favorite tasty, healthy, and easy-to-prepare dishes will be at the cornerstone of this exciting new season, all to be filmed in our gorgeous new set at Drayton Mills,” Theodore said in a statement. “I look forward to creating delicious recipes, festive music, and great-tasting meals, all in the comfort of our luxury, loft setting.”
Drayton Mill shuttered in 1994.
Greenville-based Pacolet Milliken Enterprises, a private investment firm founded by Milliken & Co. shareholders to preserve and grow the innovation company’s real estate and energy assets, reopened it for redevelopment in 2013.
TMS Development and Montgomery Development Group share ownership of the residential and commercial portions of the mill site.
For more information, visit www.draytonmarketplace.com.