Approximately 220 acres of property available for development at the former U.S. Finishing & Cone Mill site has hit the market, according to Avison Young senior vice president Rob Howell.
“There is no other available parcel anywhere near this scale in this proximity to downtown,” Howell says. “In the right hands, it could be on par with the impact CU-ICAR has had on the Greenville community.”
The property at Old Buncombe and West Blue Ridge roads, two and a half miles from downtown Greenville, is divided into four parcels – Swamp Rabbit & Creek Parcel at 116.76 acres, Blue Ridge at 19.6 acres, Dry & West Pond Parcel at 40.08 acres, and Former Plant Parcel at 35.53 acres. The Swamp Rabbit and Creek Parcel includes 4,700 feet of frontage on the Greenville Health System’s Swamp Rabbit Trail.
The property is an ideal location for a high-impact mixed-use site, including multifamily, single-family, retail, office, and light industrial, Howell says.
“We are casting a very wide national net for someone to take the whole property,” Howell says.
Because of the particular complications of the site, the ideal buyer is an experienced developer with a track record of working with county, state, and federal agencies, particularly involving properties with environmental challenges.
In addition, Clemson University’s Master of Real Estate Development program has convened an interdisciplinary team to assist a future development buyer in site visioning, should they desire.
Formerly home to Cone Mills and later Union Bleachery, the facility was one of the largest denim producers in the world. Beginning in 1903, the site had been used for various manufacturing operations and was the center of the mill village that surrounds it. After a fire at the plant in late 2003 and the subsequent shuttering of the textile operation, the property has lain dormant.
According to Environmental Protection Agency records, the site was placed on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL) in 2011 because of contaminated surface water, groundwater, and sediment resulting from facility operations. EPA and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) have investigated site conditions and taken steps to clean up the site in order to protect people and the environment from contamination.
The October 2011 cleanup action resulted in removing the burned-out buildings and installing fencing to secure the site and discourage trespassing. The action finished in April 2012. To EPA’s knowledge, contaminated groundwater has not affected drinking water supplies.
Many areas of the property may qualify for No Further Action with the EPA but will have to be determined.
The EPA issued the following statement in regards to their cooperation with the future developer of the site: “Returning Superfund sites back to beneficial use is a high priority for the Environmental Protection Agency, and EPA will continue to work with enterprising individuals and organizations to bring new opportunities to communities impacted by Superfund Sites. The U.S. Finishing/Cone Mills site in Greenville, S.C., has a very high potential for redevelopment and return to beneficial use as an asset for the community.”