Downtown Wilmington is trending in the direction of high-end living space, with redevelopment work completed or ongoing on 11 upper-floor units.
Most of the re-purposing projects are the work of LT Land Development LLC, owned by Larry and Terri Roberts II of Clinton County. The new apartments it is creating out of largely abandoned upper-story spaces include three in the Fife and Bosworth building on the corner of Main and South streets, five in the 94 South Building at the corner of Locust and South and two adjacent Main Street units above Mom’s Friendly Game Shop and The Crave Candy & Nuts.
Larry Roberts II said Friday he’s looking at a couple other central commercial-district buildings he would like to obtain and then re-do their upper floors, too, for people who want to live right downtown in upscale space with a vantage point from upper-level windows.
“I enjoy the character and history of the buildings, and I enjoy the renovation itself and I think it’s a good investment for the community,” said Roberts.
He said there’s a demand here for high-end downtown apartments.
“It’s not hard to rent once the work gets finished,” he said.
The finished top-floor loft apartment at Fife and Bosworth is spoken for. It has two bedrooms, two baths and a walk-in closet that has a window to the downtown.
Steve Brown, executive director of Main Street Wilmington, said attracting “younger professionals” to the downtown — the primary clientele for high-end loft apartments — has been a “methodical” part of the organization’s planning, reaching back to a well-attended public tour of potential loft spaces two or so years ago.
Having upper floors serve as residences and the ground floor as retail is not a new concept, Brown points out. Business owners often lived upstairs above their shops in earlier days.
It’s also not unique to Wilmington, with many municipalities encouraging people to live downtown as part of revitalization efforts, said Brown.
An occupant of a 94 South apartment said Friday the bird’s eye view is “spectacular,” and is “really pretty” during evening hours. She can walk to her job at a downtown restaurant.
Roberts said the mayor of Hillsboro has spoken with him, hoping LT Land Development will consider similar re-do projects in the downtown there.
Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings said Friday he thinks there would be “real interest” for living in loft apartments in downtown Hillsboro and there are “some great structures” to refurbish.
Brown said he’s told Larry and Terri Roberts II they are “contributing to changing the landscape of the downtown.”
Gary Huffenberger can be reached at 937-382-2574 ext. 2512 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.