Run of the Mill
The Enterprise Mill in Augusta, Ga., was
vacant for more than 10 years when Clayton P. Boardman III, local
businessman and owner of Boardman Petroleum, purchased it in August
1997. Boardman's plan included transforming the mill into a mixed-use
property, but before beginning the makeover, he studied similar
projects around the country. He decided to emulate the historic rehab
projects that have been popular in urban markets for years by
preserving the distinctive architecture of the 19th-century mill while
transforming the interior into loft apartments, retail stores, and
Built in the mid-1800s, the mill complex
had received several additions over the years. Originally the property
was constructed as a single-building flour mill. But, when Boardman
bought the 260,000-square-foot property, it included six buildings in
various states of disrepair.
Realizing that he needed a
team of professionals to undertake this large makeover project,
Boardman hired Mark Capers, a local contractor who had worked with him
on previous projects, and Carlton Ralph Kitchens, CCIM, of Nichols Land
and Investment Co. in Augusta, who would serve as the commercial
leasing agent for the office and retail space.
Boardman, who financed the more than $17 million needed for the
project, first focused on maximizing his cost savings by utilizing
historic tax credits. As a qualified historic building with a planned
income-producing use, the property was eligible for a 20 percent
federal tax cut and an eight-year state property tax abatement.
mill's physical transformation began with removing the existing textile
manufacturing equipment. Historically significant items were salvaged
for display, while most of the remaining paraphernalia was recycled. An
environmental site assessment revealed some asbestos and lead.
Abatement took about three months, and the entire property cleanup took
nearly six months.
Preserving the Past
While the property was rehabilitated one building at a time, many
structures presented similar challenges. In the 1950s, more than 500
windows throughout the property had been bricked in for ventilation and
heating reasons. To restore the original window openings, workers used
sledgehammers and masonry saws to carefully remove the brick. The
process produced clouds of orange dust and required workers to wear
energy efficient windows that also closely resembled the original
models presented another problem. The new windows had to meet historic
preservation requirements, which significantly slowed the
rehabilitation process. Eventually, a local company was hired to design
the windows according to historical specifications, which included wood
frames and single-pane glass.
In addition to
historically accurate windows, Boardman also wanted to preserve
Enterprise Mill's defining architectural elements -- two stair towers
along the east façade of the mill's main building. Weather had
deteriorated the towers and several parts had to be removed. Carpenters
repaired the cupolas and replaced rotted roof shingles with more
durable, hand-turned metal shingles. The staircases then were removed
to allow the towers to become the property's main entrances.
the property's post-makeover historic exterior, the interior was
outfitted with modern facilities. “We made sure that we were class A
space and offered amenities that no one else in the market area was
offering. For example, [we offered] more choice for phone and Internet
data lines, conference facilities and exercise facilities,” Kitchens
Dividing It Up
exterior of the mill maintained, the next step in the makeover was to
divide the mill space into loft apartments and commercial space. “We
first decided what areas would be commercial and what areas would be
apartments, but we left enough flexibility to allow the project to
evolve or to allow changes in the plans,” Kitchens says.
apartments were carved out of the main mill. The removal of a
third-floor attic from the building revealed unpainted heart-pine beams
criss-crossing the space as well as several original skylights. These
unique elements were incorporated into the apartments and ensured that
every space in the property was different. Architects left duct work
and pipes exposed to commemorate the property's former industrial use.
40,000-sf floors in the main building were designated as office space.
Kitchens found few leasing obstacles. “We had two advantages over the
competition immediately -- an abundance of free surface parking
adjacent to the building and the largest footprint of any building in
the area,” he says. The first tenant was the Augusta Metropolitan
Convention and Visitors Bureau, which helped the property gain
popularity as well.
“Our next lease was a very large
engineering firm. They wanted to be on one floor and needed a large
amount of parking,” Kitchens says. Spaces ranging from 450 square feet
to 22,000 sf were available and rents ranged from $17 per square foot
to $22 psf. Current tenants include engineering companies, attorneys,
investment brokers, tax-exempt organizations, phone companies, a real
estate office, a photography studio, the canal authority museum, a
sandwich shop, and others.
Enterprise Mill's Makeover
Smoking building, 460 sf.
Used by mill workers for cigarette breaks
Leasing office for the property during construction, now available for commercial use
Starch warehouse, 1,040 sf Used to store starch for stiffening cotton textiles
Conference facility for the mill's office tenants featuring heart-pine tables made from wood salvaged during the makeover
Torn down with approval from historic commissions and turned into a courtyard
Main mill, 141,000 sf
Used for weaving, carding, and spinning textiles
Thirty-seven apartments ranging from 500 sf to 1,600 sf
Weave building and clerestory, 23,500 sf
Used for weaving
Office space for Boardman Petroleum and other tenants, a fast food restaurant, kitchen, bathroom, and conference room
Housed turbines and generators used as mill's power source
Houses generators, which provide the property's power, loft apartments on the second floor