GASTONIA, N.C. -- It has been 19 years in the making, but construction finally kicked off at the Loray Mills project in Gaston County Tuesday night.

The old mill will be turned into a housing and retail complex, with 190 apartments and 79,000 square feet of commercial space.

At one time, the building housed the largest textile mill in the south. Volunteers who worked on the project think it will have a ripple effect on the other parts of the city.

We think the whole end of town is gonna come up because of this. That's why we're pretty excited about it, said Lucy Penegar.

Developers think the loft apartments at the mill will be geared towards younger, career people. Rent will be a little above the average rates in Gastonia.

The complex is set to open by Spring, 2014.

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