Vicksburg mill getting new life as mixed-use facility

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

VICKSBURG, Mich. (WOOD) — The old Vicksburg Paper Mill is getting new life.

After sitting vacant for a decade, developers are rehabilitating the century-old facility. 

The Vicksburg Paper Mill was built in the early 1900s. It was the economic engine of Vicksburg, employing hundreds of people. But the mill shut down in 2001 and has been vacant for about 10 years. Time has left the facility showing its age.   

“Obviously, this is a very large place, and it’s an iconic, historic building,” said Jackie Koney, project manager for the renovation. “And it took a while for us to figure out what that vision would be to try and fill 420,000 square feet, and we have 110 acres of land.”

That vision calls for a $50 million to $60 million renovation. It will turn the old paper mill into a mixed-use facility, which will include housing, a hotel, office space, craft food and beverage production, and a lot of indoor and outdoor event space.

“The idea is that it’s a holistic campus where people can go out in the 80 acres and see hops and barley and rye and all sorts of crops being grown,” Koney said. “They can come into the facility and they can watch the process of beer being brewed, and then they can enjoy their beers in a collective taproom.”

Koney met the mill’s owner, Chris Moore, while they were students at the University of Michigan in the 1980s. Moore asked Koney to head up the rehabilitation project.

“So, when I drove up, and saw it after not having seen it for 20 years, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s said as it’s not as pretty as it used to be. But, boy, what a beauty. She is just a gorgeous building,’” Koney said.

The old mill is on the National Register of Historic Places. Koney expects the construction project to employ 200 people, and about 200 more will work at the mill once it’s completed.

“And (then) by 2020, we’ll have people enjoying beers at least on the east wing,” she said.

Rehabilitation of the brick exterior should begin this fall.

“This is something that Vicksburg has that nobody else has, and we’re happy that we’re able to save it,” Koney added.

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