EDEN — A potential $750,000 will soon be made available for owner-occupied housing repairs in Draper’s two mill villages.

The funding comes following unanimous Eden City Council approval on Jan. 21 of a grant agreement with the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Community Development Block Grant Neighborhood Revitalization program.

City Inspections Director Kelly Stultz told the council the application process for individuals and the start of work on houses will begin once all conditions are released by the grantee.

“We have a housing committee that has already been set up and approved by council and they will help to screen the various applicants,” said Stultz, who also explained that income requirements and other regulations for applicants will soon be released by the state, following the council’s approval.

“There is also a deed of trust that will be recorded to prevent people from taking the windfall and selling it,” said Stultz, who noted that the maximum amount that could be spent on an individual home is $40,000.

“The whole point is to provide better quality housing,” Stultz said.

The department leader told the city board that it will likely be a few months before her department can begin awarding applications.

“We have to follow their rules, and that’s a small price to pay for three quarters of a million dollars,” said Stultz, who is receiving daily calls about the application process.

City officials are also working on an application to obtain additional funding through North Carolina Housing Finance Agency’s Urgent Repair program.

The agency has made $4.5 million available in 2020 for recipient agencies to provide deferred, forgiven loans of up to $10,000 for emergency home repairs and modifications to very low income, owner-occupied homes.

Stultz said she chose the depressed Draper neighborhoods based on their economic conditions and the fact that the area has never before had the boost of infused housing funds.

Councilman Jerry Ellis applauded Stultz’s assessment.

“We are looking at what is happening at the mega park, and Draper is going to be seen first when they come into town from that area,” Ellis said during the public hearing. “It’s been hard hit from a lot of industries there that have been lost over the past years. Great choice.”

Ellis continued: “I think that community has a really strong identity and this kind of work often ... if we fix three houses on the street, then some of the neighbors are going to think, ‘hmmm, I need to tighten up too.’ ”

Gildan Activewear to receive $500,000 reuse grant

Council members unanimously approved an agreement with the North Carolina Department of Commerce that will facilitate a $500,000 building reuse grant for Gildan Activewear.

The approval, which comes following a Jan. 21 public hearing, will help the local industrial leader develop its new expansion site at 335 Summit Road.

In October, Gildan announced the $17 million initiative that will ultimately create 85 additional jobs.

The grant will support the re-use of the 181,000 square-foot building that was constructed in 1964. The facility sat vacant for two years following India-based SgrTex’s exit from the local economic picture.

The grant requires a 5% match, or $25,000, from the City of Eden, which was previously approved as part of an incentive package for the local yarn manufacturer.

During the October announcement, Chuck Ward Gildan’s senior vice president over yarn spinning, said the company plans to invest approximately $5 million into revamping the facility to “bring it up to Gildan standards.”

The new positions will pay up to $37,707– which sits above the county annual median income of $34,716.

The property, which returned to the market in early 2019, as part of the liquidation process, was last renovated in 2014, when new state-of-the-art open-end cotton machines we installed there.

“Gildan has already started production and invested heavily in the facility,” said Eden Economic Director Mike Dougherty during the hearing. “It will be over $20 million before it’s finished. Their track record in Eden has included multiple expansions — from a 200,000 square foot warehouse, to almost 2 million square feet among three facilities and 600 jobs.”

The grant will be disbursed in the form of a forgivable loan administered by the City of Eden.

As part of the agreement, Gildan must create and establish the promised 85 new full-time jobs.

The company is currently seeking machine electricians, spinning and carding technicians, spinning and carding operators and can haulers, according to Eden’s Interim City Manager Terry Shelton’s January 2020 City Manager’s Report.

Lidl Building soon to be on the market

In other local business news, Shelton’s report stated that German supermarket chain Lidl is finalizing a deal with a broker to represent the facility on Van Buren Road.

Lidl began preparation on the site in 2017 and completed external construction before making the decision in 2019 to halt the internal build out of the facility that never opened.

In May 2019, company official William Harwood told WFMY-TV that after evaluating the site, the company decided against opening because their focus was on “sites that can be most convenient for the most customers possible.”

The property was purchased by Lidl in 2016 from Ruby Tuesday’s for $750,000.

The brokerage is taking place “… after much prodding by the city to put it on the market,” Shelton wrote in his report.

Joe Dexter is a staff writer for RockinghamNow. He can be reached at 336-349-4331 ext. 6139 or @JoeDexter_RCN on Twitter.

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