From Simpsonville, to Greer, to Travelers Rest, towns in Greenville County are growing and sporting vibrant downtowns. Now, Piedmont is hoping to add itself to the list.
A couple months ago, Larry Webb with KDS Commercial Properties bought a historic Mill building constructed in 1905. Webb lives in Piedmont and says he saw the potential for the town.
“I’ve seen it for years sitting up on the hill,” Webb said. “This big beautiful building. It’s been abandoned. It’s like why can’t we do something with this.”
The Piedmont Mill has been gone for years. Now, only a couple of smoke stacks stand. However, Piedmont used to be a vibrant textile town. The mill started production in 1876 and was sending sheeting to China shortly after.
“When the mill died and burned and was torn down, everyone sort of fled the Piedmont downtown area, and it’s been that way for many years,” Webb said.
However, Webb hopes he can bring life back to downtown Piedmont.
“We need places for lunch and dinner,” Webb said. “We need coffee shops, so that’s what we’re looking to do.”
Piedmont residents agree.
“We’re so excited that finally something is happening with this building,” resident Donna Miller said. “We’ve watched it deteriorate year after year.”
Webb plans to restore the building using the historic and abandoned building tax credits.
“With those tax credits, we can restore the building, and we can keep the rents affordable, below market in our opinion, to help make it a feasible project,” Webb said.
Some community members hope the building is just the beginning. Anne Peden with the Greenville County Historic Preservation Commission says the historic footbridge over the Saluda River is one of the most “at-risk” bridges in the state. She says the bridge used to be the way workers would travel between the Greenville and Anderson County sides of the Mill.
“If we can just preserve it, restore it, paint it, we can use that as a key to pull back the two counties to working to restore the whole community,” Peden said.
She says, in the future, they would like the bridge to be a focal point, possibly even a trail, in a park connecting the two counties.
“We are hoping that people will notice Piedmont, see what’s available there, not just the commercial things, but the natural things that are so key to the town,” Peden said.
Webb hopes to have the restoration completed and the building occupied by the end of the next year.