Pelzer Heritage Commission efforts about to pay off in a big way

Tonya Haddock and Ed Lipsky

By Stan Welch
“An absolute game changer”. That’s the description given to the plans for the mill properties acquired and reclaimed by the Pelzer Heritage Commission (PHC) over the last eight years.

Larry Coker, vice-president of the PHC, was justifiably excited about the announcement scheduled for Thursday morning. The plans announced are ambitious and address a variety of challenges faced by the town. “This has been a long time coming, but the big day is here, and the future of Pelzer is about to change.”

For starters. Developer Chris Hill, of Craftwell Homes, will build the Pelzer River Cottages, nine single family homes along the Saluda. The cottages will reflect the town’s textile heritage in terms of architecture. Riverside property will also be preserved for future use by the town for such things as walking trails. Residential development, a key to the proposed redevelopment plan, uses various approaches.

The Upper Mill Apartment Village developed by Cadence Development, LLC (managing partner Tonya Haddock) will encompass an additional eighty rental units for residents over fifty five years of age. The facility will also include a thirty five hundred square foot senior citizens’ activity center. There will also be modern, innovative and community oriented amenities, including extensive green space.

(Pictured – Cadence Development, LLC managing partner Tonya Haddock and Ed Lipsky of Rehab Builders, Inc.  tell about plans for the Upper and Lower Mill properties in Pelzer during the PHC announcement Thursday morning.)

More housing will also be built by Cadence at the lower mill with the remains of the building being integrated , along with two new constructions, into a total of ninety five loft style apartments. Coker says that there is also ten to twelve acres still available at that site; a tract he hopes will eventually house commercial and retail enterprises. “I think that would help create more businesses and jobs in the town and surrounding community.”

One commercial enterprise will be an innovative restaurant, Daleview Biscuits and Beer, which will be located in the old mill office building off of Lebby Street.

The Pelzer Heritage Commission acquired several parcels of land that comprise most of the sites mentioned here. Acting as a tax exempt caretaker organization, the PHC formed a very successful alliance with Anderson County, which supported their efforts to clean up the old mill properties, as well as helping the commission acquire funds for the operations. Brownfield funds were obtained by the county from the EPA and DHEC, using the PHC as a caretaker organization to obtain and administer the funds.

Several weeks ago, Anderson County Council approved a resolution recognizing the contributions of the Pelzer Heritage Commission in helping to preserve the history of the mill town that lies on the banks of the Saluda River.

Key in the preservation and beautification movement were the efforts of Dianne Lollis, founding members of the Commission, and lifelong residents of the town. Lollis currently serves as the organization’s president, while Coker is Vice President. Both grew up in the original mill village, and have been instrumental in the leadership and direction of the Commission’s efforts.

Among the Commission’s achievements are, to date, the clean-up of the old Pelzer Mill office building, restoration of the Lower Mill flag pole, preservation of the town’s historic cemeteries, and the establishment of Overlook Park on the Saluda River. Serving
Coker anticipates that the projects to be announced will be an impetus for further development and investment in Pelzer and the surrounding community. “I think this is just the start. It has been a lot of hard work and time, but I really believe things will snowball from here,” Coker said.

The announcement was made at 11:00 Thursday at the Historic Pelzer Auditorium, 214 Lebby Street, the home for the Mill Town Players.