The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation will become the anchor tenant of Dynamo 31, the soon-to-be redeveloped 1940’s-era Pharr Yarns mill building at 102 Main Street near the lake in downtown McAdenville.
Catawba Riverkeeper’s new headquarters will include offices, a conference room, a water testing lab, classroom, public-facing retail space, and a taproom.
The relocation from Charlotte to McAdenville is part of Catawba Riverkeeper’s strategic decision to make its home base along the river. From the new headquarters space, Catawba Riverkeeper will be able to work more efficiently, host more educational programming, and engage the community in its mission to protect local water quality. Creating new revenue streams from fee-based educational programming, field trips, kayak rentals, retail operations, event space rental, and the sale of local craft beer and wine will help sustain the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation as it enters its next chapter.
“We are thrilled to be realizing one the dreams of our founders – to have an ‘on-the-water’ headquarters,” says John Searby, Executive Director of Catawba Riverkeeper. “To have a partner like Pharr who is committed to adaptive reuse of this historical mill and developing McAdenville around our natural resources of the river and trails makes it even better.”
Catawba Riverkeeper is grateful to the donors who’ve made this game-changing opportunity possible, especially to Xylem for funding the lab and Duke Energy for funding the 40-person capacity classroom.
C.L. Helt and Myers & Chapman are the design and construction leads, respectively, of the Dynamo 31 development. The project is expected to be completed in summer 2022.
About Dynamo 31
The name “Dynamo 31” is an homage to the late 1800s direct current electric generator used to light McAden Mills. In 1884, Colonel RY McAden commissioned Thomas Edison to install a dynamo (his 31st), making McAden Mills the first electrically lit textile mill in the world, according to historian Robert Ragan. Dynamo #31 was in use from 1884 into the 1960s, and is currently on display as part of the permanent Carolinas Textile Exhibit at the Gaston County Museum of Art and History.
Bill Carstarphen, CEO of Pharr, says “The name calls to mind the spirit of innovation and competitiveness that will power our community into the future. We hope the building name will inspire its new tenants to be innovative, creative and original, enabling them to launch new opportunities for growth in McAdenville.

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