An ordinance passed this past summer in the town sets some rules for what must happen at the site if current structures on it are to be demolished.
Blair Mills currently still owns the Chiquola Mill, said Rusty Burns, economic development director for Honea Path. The company closed operations at the site earlier this year.
Blair Mills President Billy Rice said a potential buyer is in discussions with town officials to ensure that proposed sale terms would meet the requirements of the town law.
Three serious offers have been made to purchase the mill, Mr. Burns said.
Chiquola Mill was organized in April 1902 and operation began in 1903, according to the town of Honea Path Web site. The mill is four stories high, and ownership has changed several times over the years.
Mayor Earl Lollis Meyers said many town leaders and citizens would like to see the mill preserved. However, the mayor said it is not certain that would be possible financially for a buyer. Energy costs associated with operating a business in the mill are large, the mayor and Mr. Burns said.
The town can not afford to maintain the site, the mayor said.
"We’d love to see (a business) go back in it," he said.
Town officials said they are working toward that goal.
The ordinance governing demolition of structures of at least a certain square footage indicates that a bond must be posted to ensure that any such site is cleaned in compliance with applicable Environmental Protection Agency and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control regulations, Mr. Burns said.
Town officials said in terms of Chiquola Mill, they would not want it to be left in a semi-demolished state. South Carolina is littered with now-unused mill sites that are purchased, stripped of valuable parts that can be resold and then left semi-demolished, Mr. Burns said.
"It would be very unfair (to Honea Path residents) for such a beautiful mill for someone to come in and partially tear it down and strip it down," Town Councilwoman Fredda Gilmer said.
For the site to become a vacant lot or an eyesore would not benefit the community and would place a burden on taxpayers, officials said.
Honea Path officials have explored some possibilities related to building apartments at the Chiquola Mill site, but those discussions did not lead to any agreements, Mayor Meyers said.
"Our (population) growth just is not there right now," he said.
On Sept. 6, 1934, local police fired on striking workers at Chiquola Mill, killing seven and wounding 33.
The massacre was the site of the most violent confrontation in a series of seven nationwide strikes by Southern cotton mill workers over two weeks. The strike begun as a picket by union-organized mill workers over conditions and mill control over their personal lives.
"I really hate to see the mill come down," Ms. Gilmer said.
At one time, nearly all Honea Path residents worked at the mill, she said.