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More entrepreneurs repurposing vacant industrial plants

November 7th, 2007 · No Comments

The loss of textile, apparel and furniture manufacturing in North Carolina has left the state littered with vacant industrial facilities, but there’s growing interest in adaptive reuse and repurposing of those buildings for residential housing.

Landmark Asset Services, a division of The Landmark Group, turned one such building into Globe Tobacco Lofts at 838 S. Main St. in Mount Airy. After two years’ work and an investment of $7.4 million (helped with a $427,000 low-income housing tax credit through the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency), Landmark Property Management has begun leasing 43 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments in the 124-year-old, 67,000-square-foot building that had been vacant for about 30 years. Built in 1883, it was a barrel-making shop until 1916 and later used as a textile company’s warehouse.

Rehab Builders Inc., the general contractor for the project, created high-ceilinged apartments with hardwood floors, modern kitchen appliances, washer-dryer hookups, mini-blinds, ceiling fans, walk-in closets, central air conditioning and heat pumps. Twenty thousand square feet is reserved for community space including a fitness center, library and study area with computers. There is indoor parking. Outside on the 3.2-acre site at South Main and Worth streets, there is a large courtyard, playground and picnic area, gazebo and arbor, and sitting areas.

Rents range from about $350 for a one-bedroom apartment to $625 for a three-bedroom apartment, a representative from The Landmark Group told The Mount Airy News. Some units are reserved for families whose incomes fall within federal guidelines, other apartments have no income restrictions.

William M. “Bill” Spencer, vice president and Special Projects Group manager for Mount Airy-based contractor John S. Clark Co., is another entrepreneur and investor working on an adaptive-reuse project. He and his partner bought a former feed-and-seed store, the Von Leake Building in Winston-Salem, for $275,000. When renovation is completed next summer, the building will have four condos, ranging from 1,300 to 2,200 square feet, that Sinclair hopes to sell for $344,500 to $583,000. You can read about Sinclair and his project here.

Mount Airy already has one of North Carolina’s showplace adaptive-reuse projects. Lee and Judy Mills and F. Eugene “Gene” Rees Jr., all of Mount Airy, bought a former tobacco-leaf plant built in 1892 and later used a Renfro Hosiery Corp. sock-making facility. The building became obsolete and sat vacant from the 1990s until the local businessmen began renovation in 2002. The developers cleaned out the interior, demolished insignificant “add-on” structures, and turned the remaining 100,000 square feet into high-end, owner-occupied condominiums. The 37 units now have a tax value in excess of $6 million.

Because the building is on the National Register of Historic Places, the project qualified for tax credits, according to Preservation North Carolina. Although tax credits are often used as an equity tool requiring that the property be held and rented for at least five years, the developers of Renfro Lofts chose to apply the state and federal credits in a pass-through structure that allowed the condominium buyers to benefit from the tax credits. In addition to the marketing benefit of available tax credits, the pass-through structure created a property that was owner occupied rather than renter occupied. Possibly the first project in North Carolina to use this pass-through financial structure, the Renfro Lofts condos were sold out within 120 days in the preconstruction period.

Tags: Businesses · Construction · Economic development

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