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Wisconsin company eyes Danville's White Mill building for development

The Alexander Company considers purchasing former textile mill

DANVILLE, Va. – Development of the White Mill Building has been seen by some as a white elephant.

The building has been vacant for over a decade.

The Alexander Company, though, could change that.

Development Project Manager Dave Vos said Wednesday that a company interested in opening up in the building will be taking a tour next week.

"We specialize in the adaptive reuse and urban inflow projects. We've completed at least 100 historic structures," Vos said.

The White Mill would not be the company's first project in Virginia.

It is working to redevelop Lorton Prison in Fairfax County.

"We turned it into a mixed-use development along with our development partner," Vos said. "(Our development partner) completed all the new construction -- single-family homes and townhomes -- and The Alexander Company provided the rehabilitation of all of the historic structures on the site."

The Alexander Company will spend the next nine months investigating the White Mill building and then decide whether or not to purchase it.

Work could begin next year if the building is purchased, according to Vos, with the building being ready for tenants one to two years after work begins.

"All of the square footage is contained in a single building, so it makes it, in some sense, a little less complex than other projects," Vos said.

Danville economic development director Telly Tucker said the city isn't going to just sit back and hope the company purchase the building.

"We're going to do everything we can, too, to work with them during that nine-month period to help convince them that this is a wise investment," Tucker emphasized.

The building's design would depend on what companies that open up there want and what city officials are willing to accept.

Tucker said conceptual designs created last year as a way to market the building have been shown to the company.

"We wouldn't tie their hands to that, specifically, so they really kind of have free reign," said Tucker.

He encourages everyone to support The Alexander Company.

"Speak favorably about their ideas, their thoughts, support for redevelopment of the White Mill, the riverfront, in Danville. An energetic community -- a community that's growing, that's positive -- developers are looking for that," Tucker explained. 

If the development moves forward, it won't be alone.

In a separate project a few blocks away, a Roanoke developer has just purchased two buildings on South Union Street and plans to turn them into a boutique hotel.