Stellar Development

Developer to buy Eagle Cotton Mill with plans to open a hotel, restaurant

The project has long been on the wish list
for Madison residents

(February 2019) – Negotiations are under way for the possible sale of the former Eagle Cotton Mill that sits on the Madison, Ind., riverfront to a developer with ties to the Marriott brand hotel chain, according to a press release issued by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. dated Jan 23.
Chicago-area resident Bob Przewlocki, who owns the property, is negotiating to sell the property to Riverton LLC, a residential and commercial real estate company based in Indiana. Riverton will have an agreement with Marriott to be part of the network, according to Riverton LLC spokesman John McGrew.
The press release announced plans to invest $21 million to rehabilitate the building into an 80-room boutique hotel and conference center. The plan includes a restaurant and enhanced outdoor spaces with views of the Ohio River. Construction is expected to begin this summer with opening expected in late spring of 2020. This project highlights a continued investment in the city’s historic district, helping increase economic activity and create a better quality of place in the community, local officials said.

Photo by Don Ward

The Eagle Cotton Mill building has sat empty since the 1980s, but its recent sale to a developer may give it new life as a hotel and conference center.

The 104,000-square foot, three-story building sits on six acres at 108 St. Michael’s Ave. and is considered the largest in the downtown. Formerly known as the Eagle Cotton Mill, it later housed the Meese Inc. factory up until the 1980s when it moved to a new location on the Madison hilltop. The building has sat vacant ever since.
 “The Eagle Cotton Mill was once an important economic driver and source of civic pride for the community. This significant redevelopment will breathe life back into one of southeast Indiana’s most historic buildings, enhancing Madison’s tourism industry and supporting the growth and vibrancy of the downtown area,” Governor Eric J. Holcomb said. “Through quality of place projects like the Eagle Cotton Mill, Indiana will continue to help transform our communities into vibrant destinations where people choose to live, work and play.”
“When my wife and I moved to Madison, one of the first things that caught our eyes was the Eagle Cotton Mill,” said Ron Bateman, president and founder of Riverton. “Together with former business partners, we began to explore preservation options and ways to bring this property back to life. Now, with the help of the IEDC, Mayor (Damon) Welch, Dora Hospitality and countless others, we have solidified plans to bring a new hotel to the Eagle Cotton Mill. Our goal is to save this remarkable building and use it to support tourism in Madison’s historic district.” 
Mayor Welch said, “This stellar project is a game changer for the Madison community and will bring to life a project that our community has imagined for almost thirty years. I appreciate the IEDC, the Riverton team, Matt Wirth at the Jefferson County Industrial Development Corp., and my staff – especially Nicole Schell and Andrew Forrester – who have worked relentlessly to bring us to this point “have worked relentlessly to bring us to this point.”

Photo courtesy of Andrew Forrester

Inside the Eagle Cotton Mill shows previous work by owner Bob Przewlocki’s team to shore up the floors while it awaits its future development.

The IEDC offered Riverton up to $4.75 million in conditional tax credits from the Industrial Recovery Tax Credit (DINO) program, which provides an incentive to invest in former industrial sites and improve quality of place in Indiana communities. This is the first DINO project in Madison and the oldest building to be redeveloped under the program. The city of Madison will consider additional incentives in support of the project over the coming weeks.
The Cotton Mill site has long been considered an ideal location for a hotel and mini-conference center, local officials say. The potential sale and development of the building is among the list of desire projects of the city’s Stellar Designation, which it earned in October 2017. The designation provides for up to $6 million in state development funds to assist in completing infrastructure projects. The multi-agency partnership program, developed in 2011, recognizes small Indiana communities that have identified community and economic development projects that can provide significant benefits through transformative quality of place.
Ever since the designation was awarded, Madison’s Stellar Committee, in conjunction with the Madison-Jefferson County Community Foundation, has been working to secure matching donations from area companies and individuals in order to receive the state funds. So far, the Stellar Fund has grown to more than $500,000 in donations. The funds will be split 65/35, with 65 percent of the money going to projects immediately, while 35 percent will to toward a long-term fund to sustain the projects well into the future.
Other projects on the list include finishing the seven-mile Madison Connector Trail between the hilltop and the downtown, improving local parks, rehabilitating historic buildings, and repairing and replacing sidewalks.
Tawana Thomas, executive director of VisitMadison Inc., the tourism bureau, said having a hotel and mini-conference center would be exactly what the city needs to attract small and medium size conferences to Madison. She has spent much of the past year contacting various sports and civic associations in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky that have annual conferences in attempt to lure them to Madison. But in nearly every case, they need a hotel with a large meeting room to accommodate 250-300 people, plus smaller breakout meeting rooms, she said.
“I have contacted 81 groups and 46 of them expressed interest in Madison, but they can’t come because we don’t have the space for them, she said. “This is a huge market that we are missing out on because we cannot accommodate these groups.”
One group she managed to lure is the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association, which has arranged to hold its 2019 convention in May in Madison.
Przewlocki bought the building in July 2007 for $475,000 from previous owner Jerry Fuhs of French Lick, Ind. Fuhs had purchased the property in 2001 for $750,000 from Buddy Waller with plans to conduct a similar renovation. But Fuhs instead turned his attention to French Lick when plans were announced to build a casino there. The structure was on the market for more than a year.

Przewlocki, who owns and operates two northern Illinois property restoration companies, has been unable to find a buyer to develop the Cotton Mill. A sale no would complete his dream for the property.

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