Multi-million-dollar development brings new life to old mill site in Rock Hill

ROCK HILL, S.C. — The Bleachery was the economic center of Rock Hill for decades and now a major redevelopment is breathing new life into the old mill site.

Channel 9′s Tina Terry got a look Friday at the multi-million-dollar project, which has already spurred growth in other places.

A dedication for the project was held Friday afternoon in Rock Hill.

The site of the new University Center at Knowledge Park was formerly the Rock Hill Printing & Finishing Company, which opened in 1929 and was one of the largest cloth-printing companies in the U.S.

Some may better know the site as The Bleachery, which employed almost 5,000 people by the late-1950s.

University Center was “created to honor the thousands of men and women whose careers contributed to Rock Hill’s prosperity,” city officials said in a news release.

Many buildings are being constructed as part of the project.

“It’s a really beautiful 60,000-square-foot building that used to house electricity for the entire 2.5 million-square-foot bleachery mill,” said Tara Sherbert, the CEO of Sherbert Group.

Sherbert said that is called The Powerhouse, which is a building with 37 apartments, a brewery, food hall and barbershop.

“The city of Rock Hill, seven to eight years ago, was very concerned about a burned-out, blighted area right here in the middle of downtown,” said Skipp Tuttle, the principal at Tuttle Company. “That was 26 acres that used to be The Bleachery.”

The Bleachery was the economic center of Rock Hill for decades until it closed its doors in the 1990s.

Emile Russett used to work at the old mill.

“After the plant closed down, I used to drive by it periodically and saw the decay in it. I stopped driving by,” she said.

Russett returned to the site Friday to remember the past and get a look at its future.

“As the new development came in, new look, then I kept coming by again, because it showed what this plant was about and what it brought for the future,” Russett said.

The live/work/play project includes the Rock Hill Sports and Events Center, apartments, a hotel, outdoor entertainment, and housing for local college students.

Although the project is not complete, it has already breathed new life into what was once the heartbeat of Rock Hill.

“University Center is a redevelopment of the original 26-acre Bleachery Mill site into a master plan community that includes 14 buildings in the live/work/play environment,” officials with the city said. “The projects that have been completed include over $200 million invested so far in nine completed buildings since 2017, with four more yet to come.”

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