Mills set to open tiny house hotel
BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Friday, April 19, 2019
A unique approach to future lodging is quickly taking shape at Rocky Mount Mills as evidenced by 20 small structures of various colors and designs in the wooded area on the south side of East Elm Street.
Called River and Twine, the idea is to have a tiny house hotel as an option for guests to spend nights on the Rocky Mount Mills campus so they can enjoy the mixed-use location off Falls Road. The tiny house hotel is going to start taking reservations starting June 1. Crews are completing the landscaping and making the final touches.
The Rocky Mount Mills campus offers craft beer and eating establishments, along with the 4,000-square-foot Power House event venue and immediate proximity to the Tar River.
Evan Covington Chavez, development manager of Rocky Mount Mills for Raleigh-based Capitol Broadcasting Co., said the long-term goal of River and Twine is two-fold.
“One is simple,” Chavez said. “We needed a place for folks to stay in order to make their visits longer, which helps out everybody.
“And two was we wanted to do something original and out of the box.”
Chavez described the concept of River and Twine, saying instead of each hotel room being in one building, each room is going to be a tiny home, with amenities and bathrooms just like those found in hotel rooms.
“Some sleep two and some sleep four people,” she said. “They each have a front door and living area and work just like a small, let's say, like a small efficiency of a hotel room.
"You would book them just like you would a hotel room — it's just you choose to be in a tiny home instead of a regular hotel room."
The plan is to have the tiny houses situated in pods with free-standing outdoor fireplaces called chimineas. The plan also is to have an outdoor community fire pit.
The lodging setup is hardly confined to having the set of small structures south of East Elm.
At the southwest corner of West Elm Street and Falls, one of the former mill houses has been renovated.
The house, which is two stories, looks like a duplex on the outside, but has three units inside to accommodate extended stay guests.
The River and Twine name is a play on the campus being along the river and the history of the former mill. Each of the 20 tiny houses is named after a river in eastern North Carolina.
The structures were made by Modern Tiny Living in Columbus, Ohio, and Free Spirit Tiny Homes in Chapel Hill.
A couple of business owners at the mills campus are upbeat about the project.
Cameron Schulz, 30, owner of HopFly Brewing Co., said he hopes this is going to help his business, although he comes across as a realist in tone.
"I haven't been around that long but been around long enough to understand there are no silver bullets,” Schulz said. "I think that it will help everybody. We've built this awesome experience — and when you come out to have a beer or two and eat, you're limited."
And he said now that one is going to be able to come and experience the campus for a whole afternoon and evening, “I think it will be really cool.”
Justin Gaines, 37, chef and co-owner of Tap@1918, said, "I think it's going to be good for everybody, not just the Rocky Mount Mills, but I think the city in general."
Gaines made clear he wants people to be able to stay on the campus rather than having to go back to a major chain hotel for the evening.
He also said he wants people to know there is another section of Rocky Mount than just the Wesleyan Boulevard and Sunset Avenue corridors.
As for whether the project will make Rocky Mount Mills and the city distinctive, he said, "Of course, because it’s pretty stale here to say the least" but he noted people have told him the campus feels like Raleigh.
"People say, 'It's the same old, same old,' and that's why they always go out of town for some kind of excitement,” he said. “So now we're giving 'em a reason to stay around.”
People interested in knowing more about the River and Twine project can go to https://www.riverandtwine.com/