Frequently Asked Questions

What is The Mill at Vicksburg?

The old Lee Paper Mill was built in 1903 with paper production beginning in 1905. It turned cotton rags into fine writing paper. At its peak, it produced over 17 tons of product from its 420,000 square feet and was the economic and cultural engine of the community. It closed in 2001. The National Park Service recognizes it on its National Register of Historic Places.

The Mill at Vicksburg campus consists of the 40 acres including and surrounding the central Mill building, plus 80 acres to the west in historic Vicksburg, Michigan, 12 miles south of Kalamazoo.

Who is behind the project?

The visionary and sole investor is Chris Moore, a Seattle-based entrepreneur, whose family has lived in Vicksburg since the 1830s. Chris graduated from Vicksburg High School and eventually launched Concord Technologies, Old Stove Brewing in Seattle’s world-famous Pike Place Market, and Paper City Development, LLC in Vicksburg.

Several government entities have partnered with Paper City Development to restore the industrial brownfield site, including the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Kalamazoo County.

What changes are coming to The Mill?

The old mill building is being restored and re-purposed, while preserving the historic architectural character of the structure. Instead of making paper, its updated 416,000 square feet and grounds will become a mixed-use campus. The industrial brownfield and creek are being cleaned up and restored, and some surrounded wetlands will remain as part of The Mill’s landscape. Paper City Development is also restoring multiple historic buildings in downtown Vicksburg.

What attractions will The Mill at Vicksburg feature?

  • Spaces for meetings, conferences and other special events
  • Indoor and outdoor music venues
  • Craft brewing and distilling
  • A tasting room, beer gardens and gift shop
  • A museum devoted to the history of American brewing
  • A boutique hotel
  • Outdoor recreation, including agricultural demonstration plots, a blue-heron rookery viewing area, walking trails, and a restored creek
  • Residential apartments
  • Band rehearsal spaces and recording studios
  • Offices

What types of events will take place at The Mill?

When completed, The Mill at Vicksburg will be one of the largest conference and event spaces in Southwest Michigan. With the attached amenities (taproom, trails, beer gardens, museum) it will be an attractive venue for everything from industry and academic conferences, to cultural events and banquets. It will also have meeting spaces for small community groups and clubs. The boutique hotel will make it even more convenient for out-of-town visitors.

Some concerts will take place at an indoor auditorium, and some in outdoor venues.

When did this project begin?

On a visit home to Vicksburg in early 2014, Chris Moore walked through The Mill, where he, his father and his grandfather had worked, and had a vision for re-purposing the old mill. A few months later, he approached Kalamazoo County to begin the process of purchasing the property. He formed Paper City Development, LLC and began assembling a team including architectural, land use, and environmental and legal consultants to formulate a plan. In 2016, he bought an adjacent 80-acre parcel to create space for the campus and began to acquire historic buildings in downtown Vicksburg for restoration.

When will construction begin?

Construction updates began in 2019. Since then, asbestos, interior walls and debris have been removed and some roofing has been repaired and/or replaced. Our goal is to recycle as much product as we can throughout this process by re-using materials in other construction projects on-site, sharing materials with other businesses or properly disposing of unused materials. Non-historically significant buildings will be removed and the site around the old mill will be graded.  

Going forward, new utility lines will need to be run underground, and the exterior walls stabilized with new masonry. The East Wing will be completed first, with the Old Stove Taproom and event space projected to open first in 2025, followed by the Cone Top Brewery Museum dedicated to the history of American brewing, a contract brewing facility, taproom, and beer garden.

Why is The Mill at Vicksburg being renovated and restored?

Chris is thankful for the values that his hometown instilled in him and how they prepared him to make the most of the opportunities in life. He wants to convert some of the lessons he has learned in thirty years of successful entrepreneurship and the fruits of that success to help Vicksburg make the most of its opportunities and be as successful in the 21st century as it was in the 20th.

And so, he has committed his own capital to The Mill restoration in what he calls “sustainable philanthropy:” investments that restore and inspire communities while equipping entrepreneurs and artists.

How will The Mill at Vicksburg affect the community?

Arts and cultural tourism is already a multi-billion-dollar industry in Michigan. With Chicago, South Bend, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, and Ann Arbor all within a couple-of-hours drive, there are millions of potential conference attendees and concert-goers.

As a historic events venue, with onsite amenities, craft brewing, beer gardens, outdoor recreation and golf within walking distance—adjacent to a restored Vicksburg village a few minutes away—The Mill at Vicksburg will become a regional destination. Once again, it will become an economic and cultural engine for its community.

What is happening along the creek?

Although not required, we are working alongside the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to determine the most environmentally friendly way to remediate portions of the creek. Our goal is to turn the east yard into a beautifully landscaped area with great views of a remediated creek.

When will things begin to open up?

The Mill is a long-term project that will come online in waves. We remain hopeful that The Mill will open to the public in 2026.

Can I get a tour of the Mill site?

Yes! We offer opportunities for people to tour The Mill. Keep an eye on our social channels and join our mailing list to learn about availability.

I’m a musician, business owner, brewer, or promoter. How do I get involved?

While we’re just beginning construction in earnest, it’s never too early to start a conversation about booking future events or eventually locating your studio or business onsite or in historic Vicksburg. We’d love to discuss your needs and show you what The Mill at Vicksburg has to offer. Fill out our online contact form to begin a conversation.

How can I learn more?

Follow our Facebook and Instagram page, and sign up for update emails on our website. Browse our website for additional information on tours, presentations, and special events.