Albemarle County confirms partnership for Woolen Mills redevelopment, WillowTree corporate campus
The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors today confirmed a partnership with the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Albemarle County Economic Development Authority and Woolen Mills, LLC. to redevelop the iconic historic Woolen Mills site along the Rivanna River into a best in class corporate campus for WillowTree, Inc.
The project will retain WillowTree, a highly valued employer at significant risk of moving out of state, in the region with an anticipated private investment of $12.3 million and a minimum of 200 projected new jobs in addition to the 200 existing jobs at an average wage far above the Albemarle County average.
“We are very excited about the realization of our long held vision for an active redevelopment project for this historic manufacturing facility that will connect recreational assets, create urban vibrancy and help activate the Rivanna River corridor,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Ann Mallek. “We look forward eagerly to the transformation of what was once one of the largest wool mills in the United States into a vibrant cutting edge manufacturing center of the future.”
Founded in 2007, WillowTree, Inc. is a computer software company committed to helping clients realize the potential of rapidly evolving mobile technologies, from developing a mobile strategy to launching mobile products. WillowTree’s clients range from medium and large businesses to Fortune 500s, and include Regal Cinemas, Wyndham Hotels, GE, AOL, PepsiCo, and the University of Virginia.
“Albemarle County extends a very warm welcome to WillowTree and we thank the company very sincerely for choosing to become a focal point and anchor for the exciting evolution to come in this area of the County,” said County Executive Jeff Richardson. “It means a tremendous amount to our entire region for WillowTree to grow their workforce here in our community, along with the significant revenue brought into our shared economy from all over the world.”
As part of the Woolen Mills redevelopment project, the County will partner to provide public-serving infrastructure including a critical pedestrian bridge and trail connections to link the site to the existing Rivanna Trail across Moore’s Creek and public parking to access the recreational assets. The project will also establish a shuttle connecting the site to downtown Charlottesville as part of the County’s commitment to alternative transit solutions.
Recognizing the economic development potential not only of Woolen Mills but also the entire Broadway Street corridor, the County will fund an economic revitalization action plan focused on maximizing business development and place-making opportunities in this 45-acre industrially zoned area of the County.
Albemarle County’s support for this transformation project will leverage over $2 million dollars in state incentives as announced by Governor Ralph Northam during a ceremony at the Woolen Mills site on August 27.
Recognizing the value of the significant private investment and robust job creation and other direct and indirect benefits associated with WillowTree’s relocation and expansion, the County has approved financial support for the project that will help achieve a number of critical strategic priorities:
- Albemarle County matching Commonwealth Opportunity Fund award – $500,000 minimum – will come from tax rebates from the General Fund
- Albemarle County matching VJIP award – $200,000 total – $100,000 from County to come from Economic Development Opportunity Fund, $100,000 from EDA to come from their budget
- Albemarle County share of transit partnership – $160,000 max – will come from the Economic Development Investment Pool
- Albemarle County infrastructure investment award total – $1,000,000 – will come from the Economic Development Investment Pool
- Broadway Corridor Economic Revitalization Action Plan – $50,000 – will come from Economic Development Investment Pool
The County’s investment into this positive and beneficial redevelopment partnership is based on the following criteria:
- Consistent with the County’s Comprehensive Plan in areas of land use, economic development and transportation
- Supports priority goals of redevelopment, placemaking and economic development in the County’s FY 17 – 19 Strategic Plan
- Supports growth of identified target technology industry cluster
- Catalyzes business development and vibrancy in a unique economic corridor of the County
- Adaptively reuses an historical industrial complex
- Activates the Rivanna River corridor and connects critical recreational assets
- Creates positive tax revenue growth in first year compared to current revenue, ROI increases significantly in Year Six
- Helps shift commercial vs residential tax base, reduces future service demands
- Stimulates growth in other economic sectors