Chronicle Mill

Chronicle Mill

Project Details

Constructed in 1901 by renowned local merchant R.L. Stowe, Chronicle Mill was the first textile mill in Belmont, NC that eventually was abandoned after spinning its final thread in 2010. Despite renovations throughout the years, the building lacked appeal for redevelopment due to its industrial past as well as numerous easements & ordinances. When it was finally targeted for reuse as a multifamily building, a seemingly insurmountable list of hurdles nearly throttled the project before it began. Through continued collaboration, the redevelopment of an icon will continue having a community impact well beyond what the original creators could have imagined.

In starting design, it was quickly determined that the site was going to be very challenging. The site itself contained some problems: Duke Energy maintained a large transmission line running diagonally through the site and an existing creek flanks the western side. The existing structure was a conglomeration of tacked-on ancillary spaces overrun with heavy decay including a significant portion of the existing long-leaf yellow pine columns & beams deteriorated beyond repair.

To make a workable unit depth for the multifamily units, it was decided to remove the first and last structural bays of the newer sections of the mill. This selective demo allowed for a captivating street frontage along Catawba, with the primary entry being set back off the sidewalk and accessed via an elevated catwalk that spans the existing structure. Remnant sections of the existing façade were preserved to signify where the mill once stood. The new façade is a modern interpretation of the mill that retains the simple rhythm of the existing façade’s fenestration without being an exact replica. On the opposing side, the space the mill previously occupied was transformed into a pool amenity deck with grilling areas situated amongst remnant portions of the façade.

The need to remove sections of the existing building necessitated adding a 4th level on the roof of the existing building in order to achieve the desired site yield. When designing the top level, the design team used historic imagery to mimic the sloped roof line of the original mill and ultimately let the new section fade into the background. Due to site constraints, the new construction building sits side by side with the mill. The design of the new construction portion of the project follows the simplicity of the existing building, so as to not compete architecturally with the mill. As cutting large vertical penetrations in the mill was not structurally feasible, both of the exit stairs are located on the exterior. The west façade stair doubles as a connecting bridge to the new construction that spans over an amenity courtyard space.

The structure of the mill is a mixture of concrete on a steel deck with a steel frame dating back to the 1970s, steel columns with wood decking dating back to the 1930s, and heavy timber columns & beams with pine decking dating back to the original construction.  The interior design concept pays homage to the original purpose of the Mill, as well as the significant role it continues to play in the community of Belmont. Some elements of the design, such as the hand-woven art panels and rope ceiling element in the clubhouse, represent obvious ties to the textile industry while other elements are much more subtle. Many FF&E pieces within the amenity spaces feature salvaged and repurposed items from the original mill. The newly developed retail, F+B space, & large outdoor gathering areas encourage the public to take part in reclaiming Chronicle Mill as the social hub of Belmont.

Belmont, NC
Armada Hoffler
Project Type
2023 IIDA Carolinas Chapter DesignWorks: Top Honors Adaptive Reuse | 2023 Building NC: Renovation Award | 2023 Charlotte Business Journal Heavy Hitters: Winner Adaptive Reuse Development | 2023 Best in American Living Award: Finalist Category 27: Adaptive Reuse, Multifamily | 2023 MHN Excellence Awards: Best Adaptive Reuse
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