GREENVILLE, S.C. – February 7, 2022 – Dean Warhaft and Warren Zinn, developers and joint venture partners, today marked the commencement of the long-awaited “On The Trail” mixed-use development at the former Union Bleachery/Cone Mills Textile Mill at 3335 Old Buncombe Rd., Greenville, SC. The 1900s era mill, which was once a vibrant commerce center in the Upstate, was closed to the public in 2003 after a fire shut down operations. Since then, the abandoned mill has remained in disrepair. In 2011, the uninhabited 240-acre site was put on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund list of contaminated properties.
Over the years, a myriad of development teams proposed projects for the site but failed to overcome the development hurdles, including complex environmental, administrative, municipal, state, federal, zoning, permitting and financing issues as well as utilities relocations. Notably, the Warhaft-Zinn team is credited for its strategy to move the project forward, securing county approvals of their proposed master plan, entitlements for development, and financial partners to clean up, rebuild and restore to active public use the abandoned site. Their proposed mixed-use community, which has received immense public support, is designed to pay homage to the site’s history and historical structures, while establishing it as a community-oriented regional commerce hub. Warhaft and Zinn curated an expert team of consultants from across the country and the Upstate to collaboratively weave the decimated mill site back into the fabric of the community.
“Our combined backgrounds in real estate development, law and business uniquely position us to evaluate complex projects from multiple planes and simultaneously address environmental challenges, administrative, municipal, state and federal issues to chart the necessary path forward to redevelopment,” Warhaft said. “Warren and I are a unique team: I focus on the big picture and moving construction projects forward, while Warren focuses on mitigating risk and managing the plethora of detailed terms required to ensure a successful outcome for all parties. We look forward to continuing to identify similarly challenging properties nationwide and apply our unique capabilities to ensure their highest and best use.”
Specifically, On The Trail will bring a strong mix of multifamily (garden-style homes, townhomes, lofts and mid-rises), and local retail, office, hotel, educational and research campus-oriented environments to the walkable, bikeable and cohesive district. With one mile of the beloved Swamp Rabbit Trail currently on the property, and over one mile of new extensions plus miles of multi-user trails included in the development, the neighborhood will remain connected to the surrounding natural environment. The transit-oriented, technologically advanced community will provide sustainable regional benefits, including housing, local jobs, educational opportunities, civic spaces, and art in public places.
Avison Young Senior Vice President Rob Howell, who had listed the property since 2017, worried the right developer might never come along for the complicated site. “We had many developers get excited about the site over the years, but we knew it would take a unique buyer with a big vision to step into the ring and tackle this complicated deal. We were thrilled Warren and Dean dug into the details, explored the onsite conditions and assembled a team of experts to create a vision and strategy everyone could support.”
Added Zinn: “Our unique backgrounds make us a non-traditional development team with an uncanny ability to turn the ugliest and most challenging properties into vibrant community assets. We have the knowledge, experience and perspective to wrap our heads around complex problems and create solutions that bring value and build better communities. On The Trail is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a thriving twenty-first century environment from the ashes of a twentieth century environmentally contaminated site.”
Warhaft, who graduated from Seattle University School of Law, is a licensed professional land surveyor with extensive experience as a real estate development lawyer and manager of all aspects of construction projects including acquisition of entitlements, zoning and land-use matters, permitting, and construction feasibility analysis. Warhaft also is an endurance athlete who has completed 40 Ironman triathalons.
Zinn, who graduated from the University of Miami School of Law and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, has extensive experience acquiring, developing, and managing commercial properties throughout the United States. Zinn focuses on mid-market regions that demonstrate strong growth potential. He also is an award-winning photojournalist noted for capturing images of national historic significance and spending significant time embedded with coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan for several tours.