Lebanon’s Historic Woolen Mills Sold: Plans to Compliment Downtown’s Charm

Brentwood, Tennessee – What started as a simple transaction for Crye-Leike Commercial & Property Management to assist an out-of-town home owner in leasing his Brentwood house has led to plans for the revitalization of Lebanon’s oldest industrial landmark, Tennessee Woolen Mills.

The 90-year-old mill, owned by Pillowtex of Dallas, Texas, was sold to Michael Echevarria, a Brentwood businessman and labor consultant who helps keep companies union-free, on May 17, 2000 for $600,000. The Wilson County property, located at 218 North Maple Street, was valued at over $1 million. Echevarria plans to convert the mill’s 200,000 square-feet of usable space into a unique shopping and entertainment complex, called The Mill at Lebanon, Tenn., that will house eclectic retail shops, restaurants and offices as well as community events for a wide range of interests and ages.

Associates Randall Hall and Pat Waggoner of Crye-Leike Commercial & Property Management, agents who assisted in the transaction, recount the story of The Mill at Lebanon, Tenn. emerged.

” One day, Mr. Echevarria was casually telling one of his family’s long-time industrial park tenants in Los Angeles, Ca., Pillowtex, a tenant for 20 years, that he had recently leased his home in Brentwood, Tenn.,” recounts Hall. “Pillowtex had a dormant mill in Lebanon, Tenn. and began encouraging Mr. Echevarria and his Crye-Leike commercial agents to look at the Tennessee mill to determine the best use of the building.”

Echevarria said he looked at the property for nine months to a year and decided to take a “calculated risk” to develop the property.

“It was a community effort of Crye-Leike Commercial working with the city of Lebanon and its mayor, Don Fox, to analyze exactly what the needs of the community were,” said Waggoner.

“We knew that leased retail and office space in downtown Lebanon was used to capacity,” said Hall. “And there sitting was a building not utilized to its fullest that also held an historical significance to its community.” The idea to turn the factory into The Mill at Lebanon, Tenn. was inspired by The Factory in Franklin which was an old mattress factory, said Hall.

The Lebanon Woolen Mills was established in 1908 and was the only large industrial employer in Lebanon at that time. The mill produced fine wool and synthetic blankets, and invented the electric blanket. Dallas-based Pillowtex Corp. shut down the mill more than two years ago.

“The mill made blankets for the armed forces during World War II,” said Linda Hackett, Crye-Leike associate who is handling promotions and tours of the project. “It has a warm spot for a lot of people who were employed by this mill. To see it kept in its original state would mean a lot to this community.”

Shopping space will utilize 80,000 sq. ft., with leasing space starting at 500 sq. ft. and up. “The owner wants The Mill to continue to be a part of the community by featuring small specialty shops and restaurants that don’t compete with the outlet mall or the antique shops on Lebanon Square,” said Waggoner, who, along with Hall, are handling the leasing of the building space. “Chains and brand-driven stores will not be solicited.”

Renovation has begun and includes opening the second floor of the main building to the first floor “to give the building a more open feel, ” said Waggoner. Long term plans include utilizing over 40,000 square feet for event footage, which would be divided into two areas, made available for civic meetings, wedding receptions, or other large public gatherings.

Echevarria said efforts are under way to secure The Mill at Lebanon, Tenn. on the National Register of Historic places. “The flavor of the old mill will remain by keeping the facade and structure in tact. We also plan to display a few of the industrial machines used to make blankets, and restore the old boiler whistle that was used to call people to work and to end the work day. ”

The Mill at Lebanon, Tenn. rests on approximately 15 acres of land on North Maple Street which is two blocks north of Lebanon Square and five minutes off of Interstate 40.

Crye-Leike Commercial & Property Management is a subsidiary of Crye-Leike, Inc., REALTORS?. Located in Brentwood, Tenn., Crye-Leike Commercial & Property Management specializes in commercial, residential, apartment and homeowner association property management as well as brokerage, development banking and construction management services.

Crye-Leike, Inc. is a privately owned independent real estate firm with over 2,100 real estate associates who operate in 47 branch offices, located in 17 counties and four regional areas, Chattanooga, Johnson City, Memphis and Nashville, along with select Crye-Leike offices in Arkansas, Mississippi and North Georgia. Crye-Leike is ranked No. 10 in the nation among the top 500 residential real estate brokerage firms and No. 3 among the nation’s largest 161 privately-owned independent real estate companies, as reported in May 2000 by Real Trends Magazine.



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