Rhodhiss Mill Grant

Burke River Trail Association submitted an Opportunity Appalachia Grant application for technical assistance in creating a financial pro forma development analysis for Old Glory Mill. The report will show how much income will be generated by mixed use development that includes the Burke River Trail along with expenses to show profitability to potential developers. What is the Old Glory Mill Project all about?

Pre-application meeting with attendees on roof of Old Glory Mill. Staff from Sen Daniel’s office and Rep Blackwell were present to show support the granting agency.

The Town of Rhodhiss does not have a “main street,” just a main road running down the center. It does not have a downtown, just some stores scattered along the 2 mile road. From the outside, it may look like the town doesn’t have any hope. But the town elected officials and residents are determined to change that.

“Since 2003, the town has been on a mission to bring new life to our community. When the mills closed, our village declined dramatically like so many others throughout the south. But we survived and now we are about to reap some benefits of years of hard work spent leveraging funds to modernize our water supply and waste/water infrastructure. For the past several years we have worked with state and county leaders and developers to help develop a plan to revitalize the textile mill into a mixed-use facility.” Town Manager Rick Justice

Cue the music for “I Will Survive!”

BTRA Executive Director Beth Heile first met Rick Justice in 2020 when floating the idea of the Burke River Trail. It was perfect timing when each was looking for someone else to believe in their individual projects and the combination of a regional trail and a downtown center made perfect sense. A regional trail will bring economic development opportunities, quality of life, resident health (social, mental, physical), tourists that will hopefully become residents, outdoor recreation amenities, jobs and a safe mode of transportation. The mill will bring many of the same benefits with the addition of housing, a location for new businesses, a new town center for Rhodhiss and a way to preserve history.

Since then, Beth and Rick have been on a mission to make this project (Old Glory Mill with Regional Trail) a reality for the town, and for its people.

It is estimated the building will house six new businesses with 54 employees. The businesses could be a restaurant and informal eatery (or maybe a food hall), apartment leasing office, UPS/Fedex/Office Store for the town and those working out of their apartments, an outfitter and another retail store. Town of Rhodhiss offices could move to the site.

80 market rate apartments are in the plan to provide much needed housing for the town and the county. From a 2024 Burke County Housing Study, it is estimated the county has a five-year rental housing gap of almost 1,500 units and a for-sale housing gap of 3,323 units. Working with the developer mixed-income development will be explored for better community acceptance and better community mirroring.

The site could become a desired destination in the region for events for nonprofits, businesses or family celebrations – with the board room, roof top, office space and co-warehousing.

Finally, walking or pedaling distance via Safe Transportation with the Regional Trail to get to work, school (elementary and college), essential needs and fun places is a key element of the site.