The Georgia Trust

2009 PLACES IN PERIL: BIBB MILL

Story/significance:  This 1898 mill on the Chattahoochee River was purchased by Bibb Manufacturing in 1900. During the early 20th century, Bibb expanded the mill and developed the surrounding community of Bibb City for its mill workers. During the 1960's and 1970's, Bibb Manufacturing’s business began to slow and several of its mills were sold.  By the mid 1990's, the company was sold to a corporation in Virginia. Columbus’ Bibb Mill was purchased by a private developer.  The entire complex is part of Columbus’ waterfront industrial National Historic Landmark District. In October 2008, two weeks after The Georgia Trust listed the mill on its 2009 Places in Peril, most of the mill complex was destroyed by fire. 

Challenge/threat:  After the owner applied for a demolition permit in 2007, The Georgia Trust and the National Trust for Historic Preservation worked together to convene a group of large-scale redevelopment experts to discuss the feasibility of a rehabilitation project for the complex.  The owner agreed to delay the demolition and consider alternatives. The October 2008 fire burned the main building of the mill complex, leaving behind the challenge of redeveloping the ancillary buildings within a large complex. 

Progress:  The site has been cleared of rubble and debris and repairs have begun in the ancillary buildings.  Some of the remaining mill building are unharmed and are currently being used as event and office space. 

The Georgia Trust awarded a $10,000 matching grant to Historic Columbus Foundation to hire Barnes and Company Architects to produce a redevelopment plan for the structure, which will suggest an overall site use plan and appropriate suggestions for retaining and utilizing the few remaining historic buildings on the site. The Bibb Mill owner, Buck Investments, provided $10,000 to the Historic Columbus Foundation for the redevelopment plan, and has agreed to implement the plan produced by Barnes and Company.

Impacts/outcomes: The future of the Bibb Mill complex will have a significant impact on its National Historic Landmark District and especially on the surrounding homes that comprise the historic Bibb City neighborhood. The Georgia Trust matching grant has helped to jump start the effort to redevelop the site sensitively.  The site plans have been developed according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Adaptive Rehabilitation, ensuring an appropriate use of the remaining facilities.  

Next Steps:   The Georgia Trust will work with the owner and developer, Buck Investments, to ensure that the redevelopment plans are followed and the buildings are reused appropriately.

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