Weatherly building may get makeover

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A vehicle drives past the Weatherly building at the corner of Water and Elizabeth streets in Elizabeth City, Wednesday afternoon. A developer has expressed interest in buying the building, a downtown official said Wednesday.

Deborah Malenfant.jpg

By William F. West
Staff Writer

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The former Weatherly building in downtown Elizabeth City could soon have a new owner and be the site of a large residential complex.

Elizabeth City Downtown Inc. Director Deborah Malenfant told a local business group Wednesday that a developer has a contract to buy the three-story building at the southwest corner of Elizabeth and Water streets.

Malenfant didn't disclose the developer’s name during her presentation to members of the Elizabeth City Area Committee of 100 during the group’s luncheon meeting at Montero's Restaurant. However, she said the developer has extensive experience rehabilitating historic properties, including former tobacco warehouses in the Richmond, Va., area.

Malenfant sketched out the developer’s preliminary plans for the vacant structure.

"He would like to do between 40 and 46 one- and two-bedroom market-value apartments," she said. "The investment in that project would be $3.5 million to $3.7 million."

Malenfant said parking for the apartment complex’s tenants would be located on the first level of the building.

Malenfant said pending approval from the city, the developer would like to start renovating the building in the second quarter of the year

She said Elizabeth City officials and staff have met with the developer at least twice. She also has met with him two other times to help with the “due diligence” process, she said. In real estate terminology, due diligence refers to the process that involves performing calculations, reviewing documents, inspecting the property and securing insurance.

Site of a former candy manufacturing facility, the Weatherly building most recently was home to the former Mattress Outlet.

Malenfant said renovation of the building would have an immediate visual impact on the downtown and waterfront, particularly on visitors entering Elizabeth City from Camden County via the Pasquotank River Bridge.

She said the project also would improve residential density and boost property values downtown.

"So, if you're looking at investing in downtown, you'd better do it now before prices go up," she told Committee of 100 members.

Given the renovation project hasn’t started yet, Malenfant said she is approaching it with a measure of caution.   

"I'm not counting chickens before they're hatched because I've been known to do that. But, I'm really hoping this comes to fruition," she said.

This isn't the first time the former Weatherly building has been a subject of developers’ interest.

Dare County Outer Banks-based SAGA Realty and Construction had planned to acquire and renovate the structure, but terminated its contract in October 2015.