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Rent in proposed apartment building would start at $544
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
By MICKEY POWELL - From Bulletin Staff Reports
Monthly rent for apartments in a new three-story building proposed for Fayette Street uptown is expected to start at $544 a month.
The Phoenix Community Development Corp., a nonprofit developer involved in efforts to revitalize the central business district, recently announced plans for the roughly 35,000-square-foot building, to be constructed at the site of a city-owned parking lot across from The Sportsman’s Club.
Phoenix Executive Director Ray Gibbs discussed plans for the building with Martinsville City Council on Tuesday. He said about 30 apartments would be developed on the building’s second and third floors. Monthly rents would be based on a rate of 87 cents per square foot, he added.
That would mean a one-bedroom unit generally would rent for $544 but if it had a den, the rent would increase to $653. A two-bedroom apartment would rent for $753 and a three-bedroom unit would rent for $850, information he presented to the council shows.
However, rent could be more for units with better views and less for those with restricted views, the information indicates.
Gibbs has described the units as being “luxury apartments.” He has said that a market study shows the need for such apartments in Martinsville.
He said he knows of professionals living in Greensboro, N.C., who commute to the Martinsville area for jobs because they cannot find apartments to suit them here.
Rents would include water, sewer and garbage collection. Tenants would have to pay other utilities, the information provided to the council shows.
The building’s first floor would be office space expected to rent for $10 per square foot monthly. The Martinsville Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness would be the building’s main tenant, officials have said.
Gibbs estimated the building’s total development cost at about $5.5 million. He said Phoenix hopes to get tax credits and loans to cover the cost by early 2013.
If that is the case, the building could be ready to occupy by spring of 2014, he said.
New parking areas are to be developed. Phoenix would lease the parking areas to the city for $1 a year for public parking, plans indicate.
The council set a public hearing for Nov. 13 on whether to convey the property to Phoenix.
Mervyn King, who owns several properties uptown, including apartments, said he thinks a market exists for more luxury units in the district.
However, he said he would prefer to see the building moved back on the lot toward a parking area that would be down a slope. He said that, for instance, would help tenants carrying groceries into the building. They could go into a back entrance and use an elevator rather than climb a lot of steps outside.
King also said he would prefer to see one of Martinsville’s many empty existing buildings used instead of a new building being constructed.
Councilman Gene Teague asked what the logic is for developing most of the parking behind the building instead of in front of it.
“Modern urban design,” Gibbs said. Basically, the concept is for buildings in an area to be lined up as much as possible “so it doesn’t look like a shopping center.”
Gibbs said he is working with property owners in the neighborhood to allay their concerns about the proposed building. For example, the front facade is to be “notched” to make an adjacent building in which a medical school is to be developed more visible, he said.
He also mentioned concerns from nearby property owners that the building could result in a reduced number of parking spaces or people having to walk longer distances to get to businesses.
The parking lot has 101 parking spaces now, Gibbs said. Plans are for the redeveloped parking area to have 135, he said.
Still, Phoenix board member Robert Williams said there might be a need to set time limits on the use of some parking spaces, or even a need to hire a parking attendant to help enforce such restrictions.
Councilman Danny Turner said people have told him they want Phoenix to finish redeveloping the former Henry Hotel uptown “before you move on to something else.”
“It seems your interest is moving over” to the Fayette Street building instead of the former hotel, Turner told Gibbs.
Gibbs said Phoenix has the capacity to work on three or four projects at a time.
The Henry also is to be redeveloped for apartments. They might not be as upscale as the ones planned for the new building, Gibbs indicated.
It seems plans for the new building are “moving at the speed of light,” said Councilman Mark Stroud.
Also Tuesday, the council:
• Set another public hearing for Nov. 13 on a proposal to offer economic incentives to arts- and culture-related businesses that open in Martinsville’s Arts and Cultural District.
• Met in closed session to discuss possible appointments to boards and commissions and a personnel matter.