GASTONIA, NC-The old 600,000 sf Firestone Mill here isn’t going to look the way it used to when its former parent, tire-maker Firestone/Bridgestone operated the site.

Preservation North Carolina envisions converting the property into a $60-million complex comprising apartments, offices, retail and a 30,000-sf civic center. Firestone/Bridgestone donated the mill to the preservation group a year ago.

David Rogers of Rock Hill, NC and Murray Gould of Raleigh, NC are two developers discussing the mill’s development potential with Mark Rodman, chief operating officer of Preservation North Carolina.

“What we’re looking to do is turn it into an area that has condos and apartments and we’re also working with the city of Gastonia about the possibility of housing a civic center,” Rodman tells “There’s a good possibility that it will work out, but we’re still in negotiations.”

No matter where the civic center ends up, city officials say the only way to pay for it is with an increased hotel/motel occupancy tax. Preservation North Carolina is also raising money for the renovations, expected to cost about $60 million. The group has been given a $100,000 local government grant but missed out on a federal grant for $600,000.

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