Danville business owners excited about prospect of White Mill development

Possible design plan presented to Danville City Council Thursday

DANVILLE, Va. – The 650,000 square-foot White Mill building in Danville's River District is very rundown.

It could become a combination of swanky residential and commercial spaces if it's developed, though.

Business owners in Danville's River District are excited.

"To bring businesses in, especially outdoor-related businesses, with the park that's going to be developed next door hopefully, I think that will all tie in well together," Vintages by the Dan owner Robin Jones said.

"That's just in our backyard over here and it'd be within walking distance, so I think that would be really beneficial to our business," Lizzy Lou Boutique owner Sarah Gibson said.

The architecture firm that came up with the design plan presented it to Danville City Council members Thursday night.

The plan is one option for council members to consider.

As a Danville native, Jones remembers what the River District was like before it fell on hard times when Dan River Mills closed and the White Mill building was shuttered.

"We've seen (the River District) already come back with the warehouses and all downtown being converted to apartments and breweries and all kinds of wonderful things," Jones said. "To see it happen at the White Mill would be great."

The design plan calls for part of the building to be converted into a hotel.

Gibson likes that idea.

"I think that would make a big difference, especially if there are people from out of town coming to stay at the hotel. We have an online business as well, so maybe that could help us reach people that we wouldn't necessarily  reach otherwise," Gibson said.

Danville's economic development director says the design plan will help the city market the building and hopefully turn the dream of developing it into reality.

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