The Mill plans epic makeover

Sinclaire Sparkman • Jun 6, 2018 at 10:38 PM

It’s been 20 years since manufacturing operations spun the last ball of yarn at the Lebanon Woolen Mills, and now the commercial complex seeks to bring new life to Lebanon. 

With a new marketing consultant and 15 acres of space, the Mill hopes to become not only an incubator for Wilson County start-up businesses; it wants to also attract popular Nashville brands like Jeni’s Ice Cream and Five Daughters Bakery, as well as food trucks, musicians, entertainment, events and more. 

“There are enough McDonald’s and Burger Kings around. There needs to be a more original and authentic local concept here, and that’s what I’m going to be focusing my efforts on,” said Adrian Jackson, the Mill’s new marketing consultant. 

Jackson is from Tennessee originally, but recently worked in the marketing and business field in Austin for four years. He hopes to bring that experience to benefit Lebanon. 

“The support system from the Mill and local investors can create this synergy to give new business owners and start-up business owners a resource center that major cities like Miami and Austin are creating. There’s no reason we can’t do that here,” Jackson said.

For businesses, setting up shop at the Mill will now mean extra resources for success, according to Jackson. 

Twelve years ago, Curt Gibbs bought the Mill with the intent to create a complex of commercial development and community for Lebanon. Through the years, the space that was once an epicenter of the wool industry in Lebanon had its ups and downs. 

Though the main revenue now comes from events, most people who are familiar with the Mill speak wishfully of its potential to do more. Events like Christmas at the Mill and Springtime at the Mill that invite a variety of vendors usually see anywhere from 200 to 1,000 shoppers in the span of the event. With placement close to both the Lebanon Square and Music City Star train station, the Mill has potential to attract visitors both from Wilson County and Nashville.

Jackson said the Mill would like to see something similar to Pinewood Social, a hospitality venue in downtown Nashville that offers a restaurant space for both the worker bee and the social butterfly. Businesses could offer a family friendly environment during the day and the wine bar upstairs could create a space for adult-geared gatherings in the evening. 

About 20 percent of the complex is currently in use. Some local businesses take up the downstairs portion of the central building, which also has a large event space used for things like weddings and business expos. A church and athletics center, flea market, artist studios and business offices also take up part of the complex. The other 80 percent of the 20-building complex lies in wait for opportunity. 

Jackson said possibilities on his mind include a microbrewery, salon and barber shop, food truck gatherings, live music events and, of course, plenty of local businesses. As things move along, other possibilities could also arise. 

“I’m rebranding the location a bit right now and systematically targeting vendors. We’ll probably end up with some businesses similar to a Chuey’s Mexican Restaurant, something like a microbrewery. There’s ample space for all of these businesses to go in there and succeed,” Jackson said. “The Mill is the umbrella; it’s the primary brand, and then you have all of these other brands within the Mill that create the overall experience.” 

The first food truck gathering is currently planned for June 29, which will include a variety of local eats. Jackson also said to stay tuned for live music events twice a month with around 15-20 local artists to play during a three-hour period.

Keep an eye out for updates as the Mill prepares for its epic makeover, Jackson said.

The Mill is located at 300 N Maple St. in Lebanon.

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