Flakes of light spring snow drift through the open skylight onto a dank concrete floor.
Dave Vos picks his way over glass, ceiling chips and inch-deep water in his black loafers through cold, cavernous rooms that once pulsed with machinery.
Hundreds of people worked in Proximity Print Works when the collection of buildings was one of the largest Cone Mills fabric printing plants in the nation.
Vos sees beyond the rotting wood floors, graffiti-covered walls and acres of columns that seem more ready for demolition than renovation. He sees apartments, restaurants and courtyards that will fill the buildings that sit like faded brick hulks at Fairview and Ninth streets.
As you approach the buildings, it seems unlikely they could ever fulfill the expansive vision that Vos and The Alexander Co. believe is worth $54 million in demolition and renovation costs.
But that’s precisely what the Madison, Wis., company does across the country.
The Alexander Co., with Vos as the project manager, will begin in June turning the 1913 mill into the Printworks complex. Here’s what is being planned.

This article was originally published in News & Record by Richard Barron.