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ASHEBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — The City of Asheboro is hoping to transform the last vacant Acme-McCrary building into an innovative space for businesses and citizens of the city.

“The textile industry as a whole was sort of a way of life for people in the community. It was the center of social life,” said Ross Holt, with the Asheboro Redevelopment Commission. “To keep that as a center of community and activity sort of carries the tradition.”

Holt believes Acme-McCrary was the most important industry in Randolph County in the 20th century. At its height, the hosiery and sock maker employed well over 1,000 people.

“They wrapped up their operations in downtown a few years ago, so it is the last big unused factory building,” Holt said.

The main plant in downtown Asheboro was made up of five buildings.

Since the closure, one was turned into a recreation center for the city, another a senior center, and the last is still in the process of becoming 40 affordable apartments for seniors.

The city is planning to buy the last and largest building.

Mayor David Smith took FOX 8 inside the 140,000 square foot building. Business owners in the downtown already know what they would like to see next door.

“Asheboro could certainly use more restaurants. We have great restaurants and lots of coffee shops and other things going on, but I think there’s never enough because more diversity is always helpful,” said Wendy Mink, the owner of Vintage Cottage.

City leaders have a rough idea of what they would like, hoping to incorporate market-priced apartments, space for non-profits and a business incubator.

“That’s going to spawn some young entrepreneurial opportunities that will hopefully flourish in Asheboro,” Smith said.

They’re trying to keep the progress the downtown area made over the last few years going.

“Asheboro has grown, especially since COVID. There were a lot of businesses that popped up since COVID. It’s been slowing down a little bit, so it would be nice for everything to start coming back alive again,” said Madison Price, an Asheboro resident.

City leaders are still in the process of closing on the building.

They don’t have a definite timeline of when construction could start.