Charlottesville’s Woolen Mills building under contract

The historic Woolen Mills property was listed for $5 million and is under contract. Photo: Jack Looney The historic Woolen Mills property was listed for $5 million and is under contract. Photo: Jack Looney

Big changes could be in store for the Woolen Mills neighborhood if the sale of the historic neighborhood’s namesake building goes through. The 105,000 square-foot warehouse building that was home to a textile factory by that name from the post Civil War era to the mid-20th century is under contract. While its current owner confirms the contract and calls the prospective plans for the site “exciting,” he won’t spill the beans on the would-be buyer.

“There’s nothing I’m going to say,” said Presley Thach, whose family has owned and operated the Security Storage and Van Lines business in the old Woolen Mills location since 1960.

The property, which forms the eastern terminus of Market Street and sits on a triangle of land where Moore’s Creek empties into the Rivanna River, is more than 10 acres of prime Albemarle County real estate and was listed for $5 million—more than double its assessed value of just over $2 million.

A history of the Woolen Mills by historian Rick Britton details commercial enterprise at the site dating back to the late 18th century, when it was first home to a water grist mill and, a dozen years later, mills owned by William D. Meriwether, uncle of Meriwether Lewis. It officially became the Charlottesville Woolen Mills in late 1868, according to Britton’s account.

While the property is currently zoned industrial, the listing agent, Carolyn Betts of Keller Williams Realty, noted that the county is working on a mixed-use plan for the site that could incorporate industrial, commercial, and residential components. Like Thach, she declined to identify the potential buyer.

Longtime residents of the Woolen Mills neighborhood, which is also home to Riverview Park, where the Greenbelt Trail offers miles of paved paths for biking and walking, and the scenic Riverview Cemetery, are optimistic about plans to develop the site.

“We’ve talked about it as a great residential condo site for a long time,” said Roger Voisinet, a real estate agent whose own historic home is about half a mile west from the Woolen Mills on Market. Voisinet noted that the stream of Allied Van Line trucks driving down Market Street over the past decades “is not much of an asset” for homeowners, and he speculated that a mixed-use development on the site—if  vehicle access to the property is also provided from Broadway Street—“should be good news.”

Thatch hoped to be able to offer more details on the sale in a couple of weeks, so stay tuned.