With new tenants, Drayton Mills weaves a pattern of success

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With the July 26 announcement that three more businesses are leasing space at Spartanburg’s refurbished textile mills, a total of 12 retail and office tenants are now signed on at Drayton Mills. Will Crooks/Upstate Business Journal

By Neil Cotiaux

The “live, work, play” concept at Drayton Mills is about to get livelier.

With the July 26 announcement that three more businesses are leasing space at Spartanburg’s refurbished textile mills, a total of 12 retail and office tenants are now signed on at the historic site.

Along with the near-100 percent occupancy of the 289 apartments on campus, the new tenants — Holliday Brewing, The Lauren Ashtyn Collection, and Hypersign — offer further evidence that the adaptive reuse of historic properties can serve as a catalyst for community growth.

“We’re elated at where we are at,” said Tara Sherbert, managing member at TMS Development, the Charlotte, N.C.-based firm that along with Montgomery Development Group brought to life Pacolet Milliken’s vision for use of the former Milliken & Co. mill. The project was completed in December 2015.

The three new businesses will open in December, Sherbert said, adding about 50 jobs to the current 125 jobs at the site.

Other businesses that have opened or are about to open include Events at Drayton Mills, a venue for weddings, corporate gatherings, and special events; The Standard, a Rick Erwin Dining Group property serving dinner and brunch that will also provide catering to the events space; Burn Boot Camp, a fitness center; Pi-Squared Pizza; Bella Latte, a coffee shop; Melotte Enterprises, the holding company for Bella Latte, Mozza Roasters, and 17 Little Caesars stores; Palmetto Proactive Healthcare; financial adviser Edward Jones; and Seamon Whiteside, a Greenville-based engineering and site-design firm.

Holliday Brewing

When Jim and John Holliday set out to launch a nanobrewery, they looked beyond their native San Diego.

Rather than compete with the 200 or so breweries there, the brothers chose South Carolina, where Jim Holliday was working as a manufacturing manager. Coming into contact with Sherbert, they visited Drayton Mills and realized they could experiment with home-grown brews in small batches in a location removed from downtown competition.

“We’re going for the comfortable hangout” including couches, games on the big screen, and a dog-friendly beer garden, Jim Holliday said of the space, which will serve not only craft beer, but also wine.

Tastings at Holliday Brewing will include spirits such as Aloha Beach, a tropical fruit-forward beer with pineapple, mango, and orange citrus flavors; Hannah, a smooth, light ale; and Johnny Hops, a “big beer full of big flavor.”

Holliday Brewing will be open seven days a week.

Sherbert and the Hollidays are discussing a service agreement with the events venue, and Pi-Squared Pizza is on board to deliver pies and wings to the brewery.

The events venue itself will encompass a Great Hall that can seat up to 300, a cocktail lounge, private “green rooms,” and a dance floor. Gathering space is available outdoors as well, including a lawn where tents and stages can be erected alongside Drayton Mills’ historic pond.

The Lauren Ashtyn Collection

Two years ago, Lauren and Chris Guest opened a hair salon and corporate office at 162 E. Main St. in Spartanburg to capitalize on the growing market for hair-extension products.

Using a website, social media channels, and trade shows, “We’re seeing demand from everywhere,” husband Chris said, with spiraling sales in Canada, Australia, and Dubai, where a social media influencer reposted a company video that generated 8 million views.

The Lauren Ashtyn Collection will keep its salon downtown but move its office to Drayton Mills. There, about a dozen employees will develop social media content, inspect and store the hair pieces that arrive from more than 100 overseas workers, and ship out merchandise. The company’s offerings also include hair care and beauty products.

Guest said he and his wife are committed to keeping their fast-growing business in Spartanburg. “Should we move to Charlotte? Should we move to Charleston? We know The Hub has that growth,” Guest said.

Hypersign

Hypersign, a digital signage business whose software enables subscribers to create and upload their own content, is now finalizing plans to share part of the suite to be occupied by the Lauren Ashtyn Collection.

Neil Willis, CEO, said the firm will close its office at 104 N. Daniel Morgan Ave. at the end of July and take temporary space elsewhere at Drayton before settling in at the suite.

Founded in 2013, the Spartanburg firm grew its subscriber base by 300 percent last year. “We may actually be doubling our staff to 40,” Willis said.

The company serves clients in retail, education, health care, and other fields.

Existing tenants at Drayton Mills believe the arrival of new businesses, especially the events space, will create a more vibrant atmosphere on campus, where Bella Latte draws “a ton of business people,” Burn Boot Camp pulls in fitness junkies, and where a family of 10 from Columbia recently showed up for dinner at The Standard.

At the apartments are one-, two-, and three-bedroom units featuring amenities including original maple wood flooring, nearly 20-foot-tall wood ceilings, and 12-foot historic mill windows, some of which provide spectacular views of the community pool below, flanked by the mill’s massive water tanks. A recent price check showed an 806-square-foot unit going for $908 per month and a 2,152-square-foot, three-bedroom unit for $2,098.

Pacolet Milliken still owns more than 200 acres around the former plant and remains committed to its master plan, which includes single-family and multifamily homes and additional commercial development, the family-owned investment company said.

As Drayton Mills becomes even more of a magnet, the undeveloped lot across the street from The Standard is considered a logical site for expansion.

“That should be the next area for development,” said Sherbert, who is also founder and president of TMS’ parent firm, The Sherbert Group.

Sherbert said she intends to make use of a recent tax-reform provision introduced by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott to help resurrect other aging neighborhoods.

Scott’s provision, now law, provides a permanent exclusion from taxable income on capital gains to investors who make a 10-year commitment to a new development fund designed to kick-start distressed neighborhoods.

“Absolutely, we do have other projects in the Upstate that we are working on … that do qualify,” Sherbert said.

Thursday, July 26: This article has been updated to reflect the correct name of Hypersign’s CEO. It is Neil Willis, not Neil Will. UBJ regrets the error. 

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