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 Downtown Living

Downtown winston Salem Condos and Lofts Map
1. Tar Branch (27 Condos) 5. Piedmont Lofts (33 Condos, 14 Rental)
2. Nissen Building (145 Rental) 6. Traders Row (18 Condos)
3. Civic Plaza (100 Condos) 7. West End Village (300 Condos)
4. Goler Heights (500 Residential Units)  
A groundbreaking here, another there: All of a sudden the stock of condos and apartments in downtown Winston-Salem is on track for a threefold increase within seven years, according to a city estimate.

Today, it's West End Village's turn to break ground, part of a construction trend that could add 1,000 residences to the city. Carved into an 8-acre triangle formed by Broad Street, Fourth Street and Brookstown Avenue, the village project will offer 300 one- and two-bedroom condos by 2012, according to the lead developer, Boulevard Centro, based in Charlotte.
Downtown Livings NC Areas
Downtown living has ignited development in cities nationwide, said Dennis Richter, one of the company's principals, as empty nesters and young professionals migrate toward upscale urban lofts.

Just look at the asking prices to see what demographic the homes are attracting. They range from $157,900 to $293,900 for condos 687 square feet to 1,209 square feet - and most have been sold before the first bulldozer pushes dirt. With that kind of size, Richter and partner David Furman aren't expecting families of five to move in.

Winston Salem Downtown Livings
"We know there's this shift in demographic," Furman said. "Two-thirds of the households in the country are kidless households.... Downtown living is just having a renaissance."

At the Nissen Building, which offers 145 one- and two-bedroom apartments, 43 percent of the units have been leased, property managers say. Right on schedule. They were expecting about half to be leased by the holidays, a notoriously slow season in the real-estate market.

"They're coming from larger metropolitan cities and still want to have an urban lifestyle," said Angela Blue, an assistant manager.

City officials welcome urban pioneers because they cause minimal stress on services and utilities, and they're not contributing to urban sprawl. Besides, the infrastructure exists downtown, said Derwick Paige, an assistant city manager. Families without children put less stress on schools, and property that was underused adds to the tax rolls.

NC Downtown Livings
The West End Village, for example, will create about $60million in real-estate value once all the units are sold. For the city, that value becomes $300,000 a year in property taxes alone, plus money from sales and meals taxes.

Not a bad turnaround from a year ago, when the same site was picked by Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. for a new headquarters. The project fell apart, but it would have been valued at $50 million, generating less revenue than West End Village.

Winston-Salem is considered an emerging market for downtown living, said Judith Siegel, the president of Landex Corp. The company, a venture partner with the Goler Community Development Corp., is planning the largest residential project.

Along Sixth Street, sandwiched between Main Street and Patterson Avenue, the Goler Heights project will offer 500 homes downtown in five years. Even without a grand opening, the Goler group has had inquiries from about 350 people.

"The Heights will be like the Winston-Salem version of Georgetown," Siegel said. "We find that people are looking for high-end living in downtown."

With doorman service and fitness centers, Goler developers expect to attract both the urban professional and the semi-retired worker trying to reduce living space. Siegel points out that the Goler development, which will also offer homes to low- and middle-income residents, sits at the mouth of the Piedmont Triad Research Park.

NC Piedmont Triad Downtown Livings
Over the next 10 years, the research park is expected to create 10,000 jobs. Add that to the existing 10,000 to 12,000 jobs in the finance, law and health industries downtown, and you can see why people are adopting the 27101 ZIP code, according to Mayor Allen Joines.

"It (housing) becomes the final ingredient in making the downtown viable," Joines said.

Revitalization comes with a price. Since 1987, city taxpayers have invested $37 million in downtown, compared with private investment of nearly $425 million, according to city economic-development officials.

The Goler project, for example, has received $1.22 million, and the West End Village has received $367,500 in city money. Other investments include the Marriott Hotel and Embassy Suites renovation, which got $10 million, and the $3 million used for the Nissen Building.

NC Downtown
Vivian Burke, a member of the Winston-Salem City Council, expressed concern about squeezing too much money from the city's eight wards in favor of the downtown area.

"That's a big investment at the taxpayers' expense," Burke said. "We need to be able to say to the taxpayers: 'Yes, we can see the expenditure of your dollars is being used wisely.'

Bertrand M. Gutierrez. Winston Salem Journal 12/15/2005

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