"After a complicated 20-year effort to save a redbrick mill in North Carolina that was once considered the largest in the world for textiles and that played a significant role in the South’s textile history, the plant is finally moving toward a new life as a multiuse complex," says Hughes. The project will surely please preservationists, who helped save the building from demolition in the late 1990s, and saw several reuse proposals come and go since.
"Gastonia officials, too, say there’s a lot to like about a project that continues decades of effort to remake a longtime industrial center as a bedroom community of Charlotte, which is just 30 minutes away," adds Hughes. "At the very least, they say that a redeveloped Loray (pronounced LOW-ray) could revitalize its immediate neighborhood, whose sidewalk-lined blocks once bustled with mill workers but have long since grown quiet. The mill is on the west side of town in a primarily residential area where boarded-up buildings dot the main commercial drag."
“When you put this many apartments and businesses in an area where there’s been so much disinvestment, it’s enough to create its own weather,” said Jack Kiser, Gastonia’s senior executive for special projects. “It will have a catalytic effect.”