Lake Norman & Mooresville

City gets offer to buy mill buildings in NoDa

The city of Charlotte said it has gotten interest from private developers to buy the dilapidated Mecklenburg Mill and Johnston Mill in NoDa, including an offer to buy them for $600,000.

Sari and Company and The Bainbridge Companies recently sent City Manager Curt Walton an offer to buy the mills and convert them to upscale apartments or condos, with some units set aside for affordable housing.

The offer was contingent upon the city agreeing to a deal by the end of July.

It's unclear whether the city can act that fast. City Council has few scheduled meetings this month, and any decision on a sale of the city-owned mills would be first heard by the Housing and Neighborhood Development committee, which next meets on July 26.

In the early 1990s, the city spent roughly $6 million converting the two old mill buildings into affordable apartments, after partnering with a developer. But in May 2006, the city had to evacuate the buildings because they were deemed structurally unsafe.

The city had hoped to sell the mills in 2008 to a developer for $475,000, but the transaction fell through.

Earlier this year, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Landmarks Commission proposed buying the mills for a nominal fee. The commission said it would then attempt to sell the buildings, while working with a developer to preserve the old mills' historical value. The commission would split the proceeds 50-50 with the city.

That deal would make it likely the building's historic character would be saved, said Dan Morrill of the Historical Landmarks Commission.

In addition to the Sari and Bainbridge offer, two other developers have contacted the city about the mills, said Jamie Banks, a spokesperson for Neighborhood and Business Services.

Steve Petrone, a real estate agent who is representing Sari and Company and The Bainbridge Companies, said the developers want to move quickly.

"This certainly is not an unlimited opportunity (for the city)," Petrone said. "There is a window."