By Reno Bailey
October 24, 2004
Since Cone Mills Corporation
declared bankruptcy and was sold to W. L. Ross & Co., rumors have
been swirling as to the future of the old mill and the company-owned
land in and around Cliffside's old downtown area.
Rumors will continue to swirl for awhile, but a few facts
have become known. The Ross company has disposed of its downtown
Cliffside assets in two transactions.
The old mill, the dam, all the land and structures within
the “corporate fence,” and riverfront land formerly owned
by Cone extending upriver north of the fence has been purchased
by an investment firm called “Cliffside Mills.”
Its principals are Michael Harmon and
Will Dellinger who live in the Charlotte area. Their firm, which
has been involved in the liquidation of former Pillowtex properties
in Kannapolis, also purchased the old
Caroleen Mill. Although plans for Cliffside's old mill and property
have not been announced, Harmon and Dellinger are said to have an
interest in preserving at least part of the mill for generating power
using environmentally-friendly methods, and for other purposes, and
are said to be investigating viable ways to use the river as sources
of recreation and development.
All the remaining Cone-owned town property, from the fence northward
to the intersection of 221-A and Old Main Street, has been purchased
by a new corporation called
“Cliffside Rural Development LLC,” formed by Mark and
Janice Bridges Swing. The land is bounded on the east by 221-A and
on the west by a line running north-south somewhere to the west of
the old railroad bed (but not extending to the river). (None of the
privately-owned properties within this area, such as the churches,
Masonic Lodge, Post Office and the R. R. Haynes Memorial Clock
Tower, are involved in the purchase. Negotiations for Rutherford
County to assume ownership of the tower are still underway.)
Although providing no details about their plans for the property,
Mark and Janice have issued a brief statement of their broader vision.
|Mark & Janice Swing
“Our goal is to preserve the integrity of the 'downtown'
area of Cliffside. Along with the adjacent property and business
owners, we, over time, hope to revitalize what once was a thriving
rural community. To accomplish this objective, we will need the
support, cooperation, and input from the community at large. With
the passing of the textile industry as an omnipotent economic support,
we need to look at other avenues to accomplish this revitalization.
Cliffside residents have always taken pride in their town, and
this is the first opportunity in 102 years to reshape it for the
We hope to keep you informed of the progress made in these two endeavors.
Update, August 29, 2005
The old church
|Joe Strahl & Ellen Varner
Photo by Reno Bailey
Another commercial transaction that could have a significant impact on the downtown area's revival, that has gone unreported on these pages, occurred in 2003.
The “old” Baptist church, vacated by the congregation that moved to a new structure further up Main Street, was purchased by husband and wife Joe Strahl and Ellen Varner. They're using the building to house their trademark research business and their books for troops charity. They have begun restoring the old building (built in 1924) to its former glory.