When Michal Bay purchased the old Mooresville Cotton Mills building sight unseen, it was dilapidated, and the ceiling was leaking from 248 spots.
Flash forward more than a decade, and Bay tells me he’s nearly complete with work transforming the site into a collection of offices, retail and restaurant space.
Why it matters: Charlotte has a reputation for tearing down its history, and adaptive reuse projects, where developers find a new purpose for an old building, have become an exception to that trend.
What’s happening: Bay has developed around 820,000 square feet of the 1.1 million-square-foot Merino Mill complex.
- Office tenants include manufacturers, film companies and a soon-to-open coworking space.
- There are two restaurants on the property: The Barcelona Burger and Beer Garden and Aliño Pizzeria, which opened in 2015.
- The site is also home to an antique market, art gallery and weekend farmer’s market.
Flashback: The mill, along South Main Street in Mooresville, was the economic powerhouse of the town for much of the 20th century. The Mooresville Cotton Mills, which started operations in 1893, helped transform Mooresville into a textile town.
A village sprung up around the facility, with shops, homes, churches and sports teams.
- It was one of eight mills in Iredell County in the early 20th century.
- It later merged with Burlington Industries, which closed the facility in 1999.
Details: Bay says his firm, Concord Property Development, purchased the property for $500,000 in late 2008, after plans from a Raleigh firm to redevelop it fell through during the recession.
- Bay has worked on the project in phases over the years, slowing building more as he earned more money.
- He resold furniture in the first building to raise funds for the development, and then opened the pizzeria. That spurred interest from office tenants, he says.
The project is a labor of love for Bay, a native of Turkey. He’s also revitalized mills in Georgia and South Carolina.
“The joy you get out of something that nobody wants, but you take it and you make it so successful, is an incredible joy,” he says.
What’s next: Bay plans to open a taqueria, Japanese restaurant, Munich-style beer garden and Italian cocktail bar by the end of the year.
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect the correct spelling of Michal Bay.