Historic Mill Village Residents Dare to Dream
The redevelopment of Olympia, Granby and Whaley Mills neighborhoods had been a community focus since 1999 and has been brought to life through the re-visioning and support of the River Alliance. Working with neighborhood leaders, the Alliance hosted a series of “dream catching” sessions where residents were asked to share their vision for the future of the area. Through these sessions a plan was developed that realized the potential for redevelopment.
The plan developed by the “dream catching” sessions called for a doubling of citizens by residential infill; the preservation of the Granby and Olympia Mills; a Village Center; traffic calming; a connection to the river via the Three Rivers Greenway; Olympia School’s rebirth; and freedom from dust, noise and water pollution.
In the decade since the original dream catching sessions, many improvements have occurred in these historic mill villages, including:
- The adaptive reuse of the cornerstone of the communities – the historic Olympia and Granby Mills. Now loft style apartment homes, this redevelopment has preserved the historical structure and brought vibrancy to the area as many university students and young professionals have moved into the apartments.
- New life has also been brought to the historic Olympia Mills School. Once closed because of fire damage, the structure has been restored to its original beauty and serves as a functional community center.
- Traffic and dust issues once created by large trucks entering and leaving the quarry behind the Mills has been calmed through provisions of a bond that rerouted the traffic to an auxiliary road.
- Neighborhoods are now connected to the river by a 1.5-mile stretch of Greenway known as the Mill Village Riverlink.
- River access has also lead to the renaissance of Pacific Park and Olympia Park and community center.
By adding access to the river and calming traffic, the community became a walkable environment, connecting neighbor to neighbor.
The community continues to work with the Quiet Zone to reduce train noise.