New life could come to the former police and fire station on Roanoke Avenue after city council Tuesday night approved a special use permit that would allow the building to be used for apartments.
Dave Machado, a California developer, submitted the request and has done the same type of projects in Kinston, using two 1905-era buildings.
He said in a February 3 email to Planning and Development Kelly Lasky that his “basic investment formula for the past 30 years has been to buy and hold and earn my investment return one month at a time.”
The email was contained in the agenda packet for the meeting and he continued, “I am not a home flipper, fast dollar or low income developer.”
He said both buildings in Kinston were in a bad state of disrepair. “We applied for the Historic Building Program (a tax credit program) … That program is well-oiled in North Carolina and it went very smoothly.”
Now, he said in the email, “With the success of Kinston I have been searching for my next project.”
He credited Roanoke Rapids Main Street Development Director Christina Caudle with finding his next project, saying in the document, “she did the yeoman’s work” and they found several buildings which fit the criteria — a qualified historic district, a city which funds a fulltime main street coordinator and a “city where staff understands the importance and challenge for an investor to rehabilitate old buildings.”
Lasky told council during the meeting the building, which is located at 632 Roanoke Avenue, was constructed in the early 1930s.
Machado said the scope of the work would include the ground floor, second floor, garage and back shop space and renovate the building into “high quality, market rate apartments. Historic renovation conditions will be to preserve brick in its natural state … restore the steeple, windows and most importantly the garage door will have to replicate old carriage-style doors.”
While the floor plans have not yet been developed, Machado said in the email he is hoping for nine to 10 units with the majority being two-bedroom, one-bath units.
The aim of the special use permit request was to have the building zoned for multi-family residential, Lasky wrote in her staff report to council and City Manager Joseph Scherer.
While some concerns were registered on the condition of the building during the public hearing portion of the rezoning deliberation, Marchado told council he had a structural engineer in the building who determined it was in good shape structurally and “foundation-wise it is in great shape.”
Mayor Emery Doughtie said before council voted on the matter that if nothing was done with the structure he didn’t see “a whole lot of future in the building and the taxpayers will end up having to pay to take it down. We’ve had some constructive changes in the way people look at the community. I think there is a market for rentals.”
Said the mayor: “I think the concept of people coming to our community would work well. We have a great opportunity with Vidant coming here. It’s a positive when you look at the alternative.”
At the end of the deliberation, council, with Sandra Bryant absent, unanimously found the project would: Not endanger the public health or safety; would not substantially injure the value of adjoining or abutting property; would be in harmony with the area; and would be in general conformity with the city Comprehensive Development Plan.
Machado said following the meeting, “I’m very elated. We do a good product and I do my homework. They asked the right questions. It’s full speed ahead.”
Caudle said afterward, “I feel very strongly that this project could serve as a catalyst for the future within the heart of Roanoke Rapids.”
In a followup email Tuesday night, Machado said of Caudle, “She is the reason I am doing business in Roanoke Rapids. Christina Caudle is one of the best Main Street managers I have dealt with."
He said he hopes to have a demo underway shortly while construction documents are being prepared and barring any unforeseen issues like floods, construction should be complete in six months.