Michael Bay and Yovanna Alvarez hope to begin revitalizing the old Mooresville Mills complex in late May.
The N.Y.-based development team will start by opening one of their WOW! Home Furnishings outlets in one of the mill buildings facing South Main Street.
Bay and Alvarez have done similar mill-conversion projects in Jefferson, Ga., and Fort Lawn, S.C. The couple operates WOW! outlets in both communities.
They said they also plan to add courtyards, benches and native trees to the Mooresville site. They will eventually hold community meetings to learn what else residents would like to see there, such as cafés and boutique-type shops.
The Mooresville Planning Board endorsed the couple's plans April 8, voting 6-0 to recommend that the Mooresville Board of Commissioners approve a permit for the project.
The commissioners have scheduled a public hearing on the request for 6 p.m. May 3 at Town Hall, 413 N. Main St., and could vote that night.
Planning Board vice chairman John Robertson lives across from one of the mill's parking lots. Robertson, 64, worked at the mill as a third-shift weaver in 1964, when he was 18. His parents worked there before he did.
"I'm glad to finally see someone has taken an interest and is going to do something about it," he said.
Burlington Mills made denim at the plant before closing it in 1999, putting 640 people out of work and ending the textile industry's longtime dominance in town.
Several proposals to develop the site never materialized before Bay and Alvarez's Concord Property Development LLC, based in New York City, took ownership of the estimated 1million-square-foot mill complex.
The development will bring lots more foot traffic to town, as did J.J. Wasabi's Grill and Bar when it opened recently in the refurbished Gabriel Building on North Main Street, Planning Board member Steve McGlothlin said.
"Activity tends to bring more activity," McGlothlin said.
Bay and Alvarez said their outlets sell furniture from Europe and the Far East at below-wholesale prices because the couple handles all the buying, and advertising is primarily word of mouth, Bay said.
The couple has also worked with Mooresville historian Cindy Jacobs to display 630 old Mooresville Mills pictures from her collection.
"We believe in American heritage," Bay said. "It's a disgrace to knock down such a building. To me, this building is an antique. How could you ruin an antique?"
DOT: Stay alert to I-77 work
MOORESVILLE Motorists should stay alert to changing road conditions on Interstate 77 between exits 33 and 36 as crews construct an additional lane in both directions.
About a mile of concrete barrier has been placed on both sides of the interstate between the Brawley School Road interchange (Exit 35) and Exit 36 to allow crews to safely work behind, said Jen Thompson of the N.C. Department of Transportation.
DOT and the State Highway Patrol have taken several steps during the work to ensure safety:
Increasing law enforcement in the work zone, where the penalty for speeding is $250.
Securing additional portable signs to alert motorists of incidents in the work zone.
Staging Incident Management Assistance Patrol vehicles closer to the work zone for quicker response to wrecks.
Constructing temporary median crossovers for the State Highway Patrol and other emergency workers to use. Portions of guardrail at the project limits have been removed, and compacted stone will be placed in the median to allow emergency vehicle access.
Later this spring, more crossovers will be built to provide more access for emergency personnel, Thompson said.
The road work began in November 2009 and is scheduled to be complete in July 2013, she said.
MOORESVILLE Canvasback Road is closed between Brawley School and Webbed Foot roads through Sept. 30 for the Brawley School Road widening project.
The state closed the stretch on Saturday to tie Canvasback and Brawley School roads into a new grade elevation.
Motorists needing to access Canvasback should take Webbed Foot Road to Mallard Way to Canvasback.
Canvasback will be open to local traffic.
A temporary traffic signal has been installed at Mallard Way and Brawley School Road to help direct motorists around the road closure.
Community Plan hearing
HUNTERSVILLE Offer your input Thursday on a vision for the town's proposed 2030 Community Plan.
Huntersville's planning staff will lead the meeting at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 101 Huntersville-Concord Road.
The plan will address such areas as downtown, economic development, transportation, housing, the environment, public facilities and commercial corridors.
I-77 bridge plan shelved
MOORESVILLE A plan to build a bridge over Interstate 77 just north of Mooresville Exit 36 has been shelved indefinitely.
The Mooresville Board of Commissioners voted last week to accept a consultant's study of a bridge as information only, rather than to adopt the study.
Adopting the plan would have allowed the town to identify and plan future right-of-way. Doing that would then have allowed design work to proceed.
Mooresville never had a way to pay for the bridge, which would have linked Midnight Lane near BJ's Wholesale Club on the west side of I-77 with Oates Road on the east side.
The bridge would have been part of an east-west connector route to alleviate congestion on nearby N.C. 150.
Town commissioner Mitch Abraham said the board's vote doesn't mean the town can't reconsider the project someday.
The board's vote followed months of protest by some residents along Oates Road who objected to the increased traffic such a route would bring.
The commissioners voted to adopt a study of an east-west connector well to the south, at I-77 Exit 31.
The Lowe's Companies Inc. national headquarters is off that exit, as is the planned $800million Langtree at the Lake mixed-use community.
That four-lane connector would link Langtree and Shearers roads and include bicycle lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the road.