Canal Authority completes purchase of Sibley Mill

The Augusta Canal Authority completed its planned purchase Tuesday of the historic Sibley Mill, along with its hydropower plant, outbuildings and 20 acres.

"We are officially closed on the purchase of the Sibley Mill," said Dayton Sherrouse, the authority's executive director.

The authority agreed in February to buy the 518,000-square-foot textile mill for $800,000, pending a series of environmental studies.

Under the terms of the sale, the previous owner -- Avondale Mills -- had given the authority 120 days to determine whether there were any structural or contamination issues that had not been identified in previous assessments conducted by the owners and later by Augusta businessman Clay Boardman, who at one time planned to buy the site.

The primary issues identified in all three studies were typical of large, old industrial buildings, Sherrouse said.

"It was mainly lead paint and asbestos inside the building and some lead and mercury and cadmium in soil, for which there would be some remediation to be required," he said.

The authority can now move forward with evaluating future uses for the building.

Eventual plans include marketing the site for redevelopment. Possible uses could include a blend of residential, professional and commercial -- similar to the nearby Enterprise Mill, which was successfully renovated a decade ago.

In 2001, the canal authority purchased Sibley's next-door neighbor, King Mill, for $250,000. The authority then leased the building to a new operator, Ohio-based Standard Textile, which has kept it open as an active manufacturer and employer.