By Rachael Krause | WAVE 3 News
Work is being done to finalize a deal that would transform downtown Madison’s riverfront.
Since the 1980s, the historic Eagle cotton mill has sat empty. But thanks to the state’s stellar community designation and interest from an area developer, they’ve got big plans to develop the space into something that will draw people in.
These days, the old cotton mill isn’t much to look at. Built in 1884, fraying fabric and empty windows haunt the massive riverfront space.
“You come across from Kentucky into Madison and one of the first things you see right now is unfortunately an eyesore with that historic cotton mill. But we’ve always been told the bones were very good,” Damon Welch, Madison, Indiana mayor.
First a cotton mill, then bought by manufacturer Meese, the more than one century of manufacturing products inside came to a halt around three decades ago.
“So it’s been vacant since the 80s with a few different ownerships in between,” said Nicole Schell, Madison city planner.
Now, developer Riverton LLC is partnering with the city and the state to breathe new life into the building. Work will begin in the summer to transform the historic cotton mill in downtown Madison into a boutique hotel with around 80 rooms, located right on the riverfront.
“We feel like this is a game changer for Madison,” Welch said.
“We do need hotels. Especially on big weekends for festivals,” said Andrew Forrester, Madison community relations director.
Events like the Madison Regatta draw in thousands to the historic riverfront. The addition of the hotel and conference center will allow more of those visitors to shop and stay local like never before.
“Tourism is extremely important. We get some of our businesses on Main Street see a lot of their profit come in just in a couple weekends out of the year,” Forrester said.
The $21-million investment is part of a larger vision. The state’s stellar community designation has made Madison a target for redevelopment projects, saving historic buildings and inspiring new growth. Expected to open summer of 2020, the cotton mill’s transformation is one of the town’s largest redevelopments so far.
“It will be a good improvement and I think it will spur other investment in the area,” Schell said. This projects and others around it, serving as a sign of even more new things to come for the historic town.
“We’re excited about what’s happening here,” Welch said.