Revolution Mill comes full circle as place to work, live and play

News and Record

GREENSBORO — Imagine an evening with dinner along the docks, a concert on the courtyard, followed by a cup of coffee before you make your way home.

Three activities. One location — Revolution Mill, the 45-acre, $100 million mixed-use development just a couple of miles from downtown.

It’s been five years since Self-Help Ventures Fund of Durham took over redevelopment of the complex off Yanceyville Street, which was once part of the Cone Mills textile empire.

Today, it’s a place where people live, work and play. It’s home to businesses, apartments and restaurants.

And there’s more to come. By summer, a festival courtyard featuring a projection screen will open between the mill’s two wings to host concerts, movie nights and other events for the entire community.

Construction is ongoing, but the first phase is nearly complete.

Nick Piornack, business development manager for Revolution Mill, said there are law firms and interior design and marketing businesses on site. There are also artist studios and a textile-design company.

Piornack said this week that half of the 142 one- and two-bedroom apartments have been leased in the six weeks since they’ve been available. About 20 percent of the apartments — for which the normal rent starts at about $915 for a one-bedroom — have been set aside as affordable housing, he said.

Cugino Forno Pizzeria recently opened at Revolution Mill, and Urban Grinders coffee shop will open this spring overlooking an outdoor gathering plaza called Revolution Docks. Natty Greene’s Kitchen & Market is also planning a spring opening.

Piornack, who has been involved in the redevelopment of downtown’s South Elm Street, said Revolution Mill could be a catalyst for others to invest in similar development in that area.

“This is an extremely large economic development impact,” he said. “This is a $100 million first phase for us.”

And it’s been a long time coming.

Revolution Mill’s previous developers, Frank Auman and Jim Peeples, had converted about half of the mill into office space during their nearly 10-year involvement with the project before economic troubles stopped their efforts. They defaulted on a construction loan, and the property went into foreclosure. Self-Help, a nonprofit and community development lender, bid $8 million for the property in September 2012.

Emma Haney, a development associate with Revolution Mill, said that in the project’s early phase, Self-Help brought in people and groups for tours of the property and to explain its vision for it.

Now, people are returning on their own to see the nearly finished product, and Haney said feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I think people are kind of rediscovering the whole campus,” she said.

Haney said the apartments and restaurants sort of sell themselves. What she’s most excited about is the public element of the project — which includes the festival courtyard — that will draw the larger community to Revolution Mill. She said she wants everyone to feel as if they are a part of Revolution Mill, regardless of whether they live or work there.


By Jonnelle Davis