Archive for January, 2013

Pepper Building in Winston-Salem Will Have 45 Apartments

Update 1/31/13 – Today’s Winston-Salem Journal has more details:

…U.S. Development plans to renovate the top two floors of City Plaza to create 45 apartments with monthly rents starting in the $700 to $800 range…

David Bryant, president of U.S. Development, said he expected the sale to be completed today, after which he would provide more details beyond the previously stated plans for apartments and a potential restaurant…

Coe said he wants to bring the Pepper Building “back to its glamour with apartments that people can afford and retail on the first floor. We’re still talking about what makes sense in terms of a restaurant.”

He said he would be willing to offer the restaurant space to local entrepreneurs as he did with the local owner-ship of Sweet Potatoes on Trade Street.

“We would like it to be an attraction and leave its mark on downtown like Sweet Potatoes and Chelsee’s has,” Coe said. “I don’t know how long it will take the renovations to complete, but I do know that weekend after next, the lights will be on and work will begin.”

From Smitty’s Notes Facebook page:

BREAKING NEWS: Mike and Patricia Coe have just purchased the Pepper Building at Fourth and Liberty St in downtown W-S. Plans are for 45 apartments jointly developed by U.S. Development Corp on the top floors. A Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse is planned for the street level. Stay tuned for more info.

According to the data at this website the Pepper Building is an art deco building that originally opened in 1928. It has seven floors and two basement levels. Here’s a description from the site:

Thomas Pepper purchased the Phoenix Hotel in 1926 and demolished it for his new office building, named the Pepper Building. This building was originally proposed as a 28 storey building named the Van Dyke Building. The basement was home to the Sir Winston Restaurant and the ground level was leased by Huntley Hill Stockton Furniture. The Pepper Building was the first Art Deco office building in North Carolina.


January 30, 2013 at 8:56 pm Leave a comment

N&R Story About Southeastern Building Redevelopment in Greensboro

A couple of weeks ago we linked to an article in the Triad Business Journal about Barry Siegal and Willard Tucker’s potential effort to redevelop the Southeastern Building in Greensboro. Today’s Greensboro News & Record has a front page story about the redevelopment:

The two finally have the OKs from state and federal historic-preservation officials, the financial backing and even the building permit to get the restoration started.

There’s a bit of paper left to push.

Then, in March, the real work will begin: a 14-month, more than $13 million renovation that will replicate the original limestone column-flanked entrance to Elm Street and other features inside the former bank.

When it’s done, it also will be home to 51 high-end apartments and office and retail space.

Definitely check out the article and its accompanying photo. Lots of interesting tidbits about what the final product might look like, and how Siegal and Tucker hope to retain many of the building’s unique architectural touches.

January 30, 2013 at 4:15 pm Leave a comment

The Fall of Young Homeowners

It’s no secret that home ownership rates took a dive during the Great Recession, but what’s more stunning than the overall decline from 69.2% in 4Q04 to 65.6% in 3Q12 is what has happened to the homeowner rates for the younger crowd.  From a post at US News & World Report:

The picture is even more grim for younger households who make up most of the important class of first-time homebuyers. Census data reveal that the biggest declines in homeownership were among households headed by those under 35 years of age, with rates plunging from their highest level of 43.6 percent in mid-2004 to 36.3 percent as of the third quarter 2012. Households aged 35 to 44 experienced a decline in homeownership from 70.1 percent at the beginning of 2005 to 61.8 percent as of the third quarter 2012.

The reasons for the decline in homeownership among the younger demographic are twofold. First, foreclosures caused some of these homeowners to become renters or cease to be households entirely and move in with family or friends. Second, tight lending requirements and weak labor markets made homeownership unattainable for many younger households, reducing the flow of potential new homeowners.

A similar story has played out when it comes to household wealth. According to preliminary data from the Federal Reserve’s 2010 Survey of Consumer Finances, from 2007 to 2010, overall household net worth declined nearly 40 percent, largely due to steep housing price declines. Households aged 35 to 44 experienced the largest drop with a stunning 54 percent median decline in net worth. The value of primary residences also fell the greatest in percentage terms for the youngest homeowners: Those 35 and under saw a 23 percent median decline, followed by 21 percent for those aged 35 to 44 and 65 to 74.

Obviously this has long term ramifications for the US housing market and will directly impact the demand for apartment housing for years to come.

January 30, 2013 at 3:50 pm Leave a comment

Don’t Run Your Community Like an Airport

At his blog Seth Godin posted “Eleven things organizations can learn from airports” and a few of them are instructive for apartment community managers:

1. No one is in charge. The airport doesn’t appear to have a CEO, and if it does, you never see her, hear about her or interact with her in any way. When the person at the top doesn’t care, it filters down.

2. Problems persist because organizations defend their turf instead of embrace the problem. The TSA blames the facilities people, who blame someone else, and around and around. Only when the user’s problem is the driver of behavior (as opposed to maintaining power or the status quo) things change.

5. By removing slack, airlines create failure. In order to increase profit, airlines work hard to get the maximum number of flights out of each plane, each day. As a result, there are no spares, no downtime and no resilience. By assuming that their customer base prefers to save money, not anxiety, they create an anxiety-filled system.

7. The ad hoc is forbidden. Imagine an airplane employee bringing in an extension cord and a power strip to deal with the daily occurrence of travelers hunched in the corner around a single outlet. Impossible. There is a bias toward permanent and improved, not quick and effective.

8. Everyone is treated the same. Effective organizations treat different people differently. While there’s some window dressing at the edges (I’m thinking of slightly faster first class lines and slightly more convenient motorized cars for seniors), in general, airports insist that the one size they’ve chosen to offer fit all.

11. No one is having any fun. Most people who work at airports have precisely the same demeanor as people who work at a cemetery. The system has become so industrialized that personal expression is apparently forbidden.

It’s all common sense, but these are all points worth remembering. Show leadership, don’t finger point when there’s a problem (do your residents really care if it was the person who answered the phone or the maintenance tech who forgot to document the complaint?), your prospects/residents don’t only care about price, take initiative to provide unexpected service and treat everyone as an individual and make sure you have some fun.


January 29, 2013 at 10:36 pm Leave a comment

Pickleball Anyone?

Last year during a CAPS class we were talking about potential uses of the mostly unused tennis courts at many apartment communities. One community manager mentioned that her community had converted the tennis courts to a dog recreation area. I mentioned that I’d heard about a game called Pickleball that was becoming popular out west, especially in retirement communities. Everyone looked at me like I had two heads, but it stuck in the crevices of my mind.

In today’s Greensboro News & Record there was a short article about Pickleball in the Life section, and it mentioned that the game was being offered at local rec centers. It also had a link to the Pickleball association website, and there you can find links to lots of information and articles about the sport. From reading the site it looks like you can fit four Pickleball courts onto one tennis court:

The minimum recommended size of a pickleball court is 30’x60′. The standard size of the pad for a tennis court is 60’x120′. That just happens to be exactly big enough to divide into 4 pickleball courts. A larger size is recommended if you have the room, but 30’x60′ is adequate if you have space or cost constraints.

Here’s a link to a tennis court conversion diagram. If you have tennis courts that are largely being unused you might want to consider introducing Pickleball. It looks like an inviting game more akin to badminton, which means your residents may be more likely to play it than tennis. Here’s a description from the website:

Pickleball is a fun game that is played on a badminton court with the net lowered to 34 inches at the center. It is played with a perforated plastic baseball (similar to a whiffle ball) and wood or composite paddles. It is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players.

January 25, 2013 at 3:18 pm Leave a comment

In Case You Didn’t Think Fair Housing Compliance Was Important

Here’s a picture of a full page ad that ran in today’s Wall Street Journal. You might want to point to this the next time someone claims that fair housing compliance isn’t an important issue.


January 24, 2013 at 5:34 pm Leave a comment

Apartment Construction Booms, Vacancy Rates & Rents to Remain Strong

From a January 18, 2013 Wall Street Journal article titled Apartments Lift Construction Report:

Builders started construction at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 954,000 units in December, the highest pace of construction since June 2008. The December gain was up 12% from November and 37% from the same month a year ago.

The increase was led by a surge in apartment construction, with starts up 116% for buildings with five or more units. Developers of such buildings, which make up 35% of all new residential construction, anticipate that demand for rental housing will keep growing in coming years…

Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells FargoWFC -0.83% said that absorption of apartments, or the rate at which new units become occupied by renters once completed, is still well ahead of the rate at which apartment builders are finishing projects. That means vacancy rates should continue to fall—and rents to rise—for the next year.

January 18, 2013 at 8:03 pm Leave a comment

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