Sunday, September 26, 2021

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Council confirms hosiery mill’s historic status ahead of its proposed conversion to new use

Burlington’s city council has unanimously agreed to confer historic landmark status on a defunct textile mill off of Webb Avenue as a prelude to the mill’s proposed conversion into loft-style apartments.

Known formally as the Aurora Cotton Mills, the facility at the nub of this particular request is perhaps best known in more recent years as the long-time home of Pickett Hosiery, which continues to hold the deed to the property.

The Pickett Hosiery Mills building at 741 East Webb Avenue, originally built in 1906 as Aurora Cotton Mills (see historic postcard photo), would be converted into 85 to 90 apartments, under a proposal ratified Tuesday night by Burlington’s city council.

Dating back to 1906, this 115-year-old finishing plant at 741 East Webb Avenue was once part of a massive industrial complex that straddled both sides of Webb Avenue.

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Yet, the plan to redevelop this site is actually the brainchild of Herb Coleman of Clachan Properties, whose company has previously transformed Burlington’s iconic May Hosiery Mill into a tony rental housing development. The city council heard a few words from Coleman himself during a public hearing that preceded its unanimous vote on the mill’s historic designation on Tuesday.

Above and below are photos of the May Hosiery Lofts, as completed. The same company hopes to undertake a similar project at the even older Aurora Cotton Mills along East Webb Avenue.

The original May Hosiery plant, with its famous smokestack, has been made into loft apartments by the same company that now seeks an even larger restoration of the Aurora Cotton Mills along Webb Avenue.

“We’re excited about doing our second project in Burlington,” Coleman told the city’s elected leaders during the hearing. “May Hosiery was a success, and we hope that this will be too.”

The council also heard about this site’s storied history from Pickett’s president Nim Harris, who ultimately asked the council to include his company’s name in the property’s formal designation. Meanwhile, Michele Koebrich, an area resident and historical redevelopment enthusiast, shared her high hopes for the project that Clachan currently has in the offing in Burlington.

“I highly commend them for going for round two,” she told the council, “and I hope they will be attracting lots of residents and businesses and other developers that want to make use of our wonderful commercial stock.”

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