Getting into shape

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It is a wide-open shell waiting for doctors.

The newly renovated Sutherland Mill, once home to yarn-making and cotton storage, is being marketed as available medical-office space, playing off its proximity to Augusta's medical complex.

Developer Clay Boardman, the owner of Augusta Capital LLC, purchased the property in March 2007 from Avondale Mills. The firm invested $5 million in its renovation, said project manager Anne Catherine Murray.

A new bridge over the Augusta Canal and the addition of St. Sebastian Way will make the mill property more accessible to the hospitals, she said.

"It's the perfect space for doctors because they can literally walk over to the hospitals and not have to fight for a parking space," Mrs. Murray said.

The historic mill is next to Enterprise Mill, another of Mr. Boardman's textile-mill transformations. Unlike Enterprise Mill, which has office, retail and residential tenants, Sutherland Mill will be selling the office space much like condominiums.

"It's an opportunity for them to actually own their office space rather than to lease it, which is what most of them have to do on the other side of Walton Way," Mrs. Murray said.

The 56,000-square-foot mill has 44,000 square feet available for purchase on the top two floors, with some space on the ground floor.

"We've had a lot of interest from several parties and a few practices," Mrs. Murray said. "They're putting the numbers together and already drawing up plans to see how it would work. We're feeling very positive about the interest in the building."

The mill's use for medical offices and the new road support Augusta's Master Plan, facilitated by Augusta Tomorrow to promote additional growth of the medical community in that part of the city, said Dennis Skelley, the president and CEO of Walton Rehabilitation Health System and the president of Augusta Tomorrow.

Walton Rehab, the mill's neighbor, has benefited from the project. A public road between the two buildings has been opened and now serves as another way to reach 13th Street.

Mr. Skelley said he and Mr. Boardman coordinated efforts so the development and improvements would complement the hospital. In exchange, Walton Rehab agreed to upgrade its landscaping and the utilization of its freight dock at which tractor-trailers deliver supplies to the hospital.

"With the development of the mill, we were able to widen the street between the two buildings, and it now connects to the parking and easements of the new mill parking lot which finds its way back to the new St. Sebastian Way," Mr. Skelley said.

Whether the mill directly affects Walton Rehab depends on the type of medical services that will occupy the new mill.

"If there is an appropriate relationship for rehabilitative services, it could be a referral conduit," he said.

Sutherland Mill was rehabilitated to comply with the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system. Its sustainable design promotes energy and water savings, in addition to a healthful working environment.

Mrs. Murray said the facility is on target to receive a LEED silver status.

Ultimately, the design will help tenants reduce their operating costs, Mrs. Murray said.

It has a new insulated, aluminum roof with high reflectivity to lower heating and air bills. Rain water is harvested and stored so the building won't need to use as much city water. The windows were replaced with energy-efficient units. A clerestory -- a high wall with a band of narrow windows along the top -- was added to some parts of the building to capitalize on natural light.

The facility has a fitness area with a shower downstairs that will receive equipment in a few weeks.

"That's all part of reducing the tenants' reliability on the automobile. They can ride their bike to work, take a shower and go to work," Mrs. Murray said.

Reach LaTina Emerson at (706) 823-3227 or latina.emerson@augustachronicle.com.

SUTHERLAND MILL HISTORY

- Built in 1886


- Originally called the Dartmouth Spinning Co. and used as a yarn mill


- Over the years, the mill changed hands often and wasn't very active.


- A section was added to the mill in 1923.


- In the 1940s, a Graniteville company bought the mill and used it for baling and storing cotton waste.


- Later renamed Sutherland Mill


- Avondale Mills bought the mill and used it as a warehouse until it began closing its operations after the 2005 Graniteville train derailment.


Source: Project manager Anne Catherine Murray


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