About 4,800 people statewide lost their jobs when
Through much of the 20th century, life in
And the city depended on the mill to drive the economy -- almost all the buildings in the core of downtown
When the mill closed, the city found itself reeling from shock. As time went on and city leaders began to recover from the blow, a deeper problem set in.
"Here we sat trying to figure out what in the world we're going to do," said McCombs, who was
At the city's center was a familiar site in the era of deindustrialization -- an empty manufacturing core.
More than 300 acres of "totally outdated" buildings posed an enormous challenge for the city, McCombs said.
"The likelihood that you could convert that magnitude of structures into something that would be useful" was not good, he said.
The city considered buying some of the buildings but didn't have the financial capacity to absorb the whole site.
Bankruptcy talks began after Pillowtex folded, and billionaire
He announced the
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