Courthouse Square condos.jpg

COURTHOUSE SQUARE LUXURY CONDOS are shown in an artistic rendering released Tuesday. The 18 condo units would be in a four-story brick building directly behind the Wilkes Heritage Museum in downtown Wilkesboro.

Plans have been announced for Courthouse Square, a four-story building with 18 luxury condominium units proposed directly behind the Wilkes Heritage Museum in downtown Wilkesboro.

Local businessman Cam Finley said he hopes to break ground this spring on the project on a lot now owned by the town at 100 Court Square, where the county jail stood before it was razed early this year. Finley unveiled his plans during a gathering he organized at the museum Tuesday night.

The condo units would sell for $355,000 to $405,000 apiece. There would be an additional homeowners’ association fee of approximately $300 per month to cover maintenance and other costs.

A public hearing on the proposed sale of the nearly nine-tenths of an acre lot is scheduled during the town council’s Nov. 5 meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m. A legal notice for the hearing in the Wilkes Journal-Patriot on Sept. 21 said the purchaser agreed to redevelop the property after buying it from the town for $100,000. Although not identified in the notice, Finley made it clear during the event that he was the potential purchaser.

The legal notice said the vacant lot is worth $80,000, based on the town’s cost of demolishing the jail and removing rubble. Town Manager Ken Noland said county government deeded it to the town last year under a state statute that lets the town convey property to a developer without being subject to the upset bid process if town officials believe the resulting redevelopment will add value to the town.

“I am interested in doing more and more (development through Finley Properties Commercial Development) in Wilkes County, and this came up as a potential project,” said Finley at the gathering Tuesday. “It was real interesting to me given where it’s located, and there seems to be quite a bit of demand for different kinds of housing” in Wilkesboro.

Courthouse Square would have nine two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo units and nine three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom condo units.

The three-bedroom units, each with 1,830 square feet of floor space, would face east toward Harding Hill Drive and attorney Timothy D. Welborn’s buildings. The two-bedroom units, each with 1,494 square feet of floor space, would face west toward North Bridge Street and the Carolina West Wireless Community Commons.

Two private parking spaces—one underground below the building and one outside on street level—and General Electric electrical appliances are included in the purchase price.

“It’s not affordable housing,” admitted Finley. “But construction costs are really high right now. I’ve got a little sticker shock myself, but when I sit there and look at construction prices right now, I understand” the pricing.

Finley said he would test the demand for this level of high-end housing before going beyond presenting site plans. He has extensive experience in real estate development, but mostly for commercial purposes.

“I probably will not go forward with this unless there’s half of them pre-sold. Once we have strong contracts on half, or feel reasonably sure we’re going to, we’ll do the full-blown engineering and architectural permits—that’ll probably take 90 to 120 days—followed by a 12-month buildout,” said Finley.

“In 60 to 90 days we expect to have a good idea if we’re moving forward or not.”

Regarding up-front buyer deposits, Finley said, “I think $10,000 up front will hold a spot there. With a strong contract that protects both sides (buyer and seller), $10,000 is what I believe we can deal with.” He said later that the $10,000 deposit would be refundable should the project not be completed.

For well over a year, Wilkesboro officials have been discussing their interest in developing the former jail property for residential purposes to help fuel downtown revitalization efforts.

Mayor Mike Inscore spoke to attendees about Finley’s selection as the developer of the property during the gathering Tuesday. Inscore said town officials “chose a developer who we all know and have a lot of confidence in his abilities. We’re very appreciative of someone like Cam who is willing to put his money back into Wilkes County, Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro.”

Finley responded, “The town of Wilkesboro has really impressed me with what they’ve done in this immediate area, to take a risk and spend it for the good of the entire community. This (Wilkes Communications) Pavilion is outstanding and is bringing a lot of life back into the downtown. The town has a really good vision for this historic district.”

Councilman Gary Johnson also attended and asked several questions about the project. Inscore and Johnson were the only council members there, but Noland attended. About 40 people, apparently mostly potential condo unit buyers, attended the event.

One woman at the event asked Finley how he perceived the luxury condo building fitting in with the rest of historic Wilkesboro.

Finley deferred to Inscore, who said, “I don’t have a problem with it, I don’t. I can’t speak to the price, but I don’t see the outside appearance as a deterrent. Part of our overall downtown plan is to have diversity in housing.”

Finley said the exterior of the building would consist of oversized “tumbled” brick that would give it a “weathered” look. “I love it; it really looks good,” he said. “It costs a little more though.”

Courthouse Square would also include a moderate to upper-end restaurant in the front part of the ground floor, a secure parking garage underneath the ground floor, and a rooftop deck with 1,200 or 1,400 square feet of floor space. There would be two sets of steps and a centralized, oversized elevator.

Each unit would have its own laundry room and a 4.5-foot-by-17-foot storage area in a centralized lobby. Buyers could choose kitchen-living areas with either an open design or partitioned dining area. They would also have options for flooring and granite countertops. Most ceilings would be 9 feet in height.

Tentatively, no more than two pets (dogs, cats or birds) would be allowed and would have to be leashed if outside a resident’s front door.

Finley concluded the event by saying, “I feel really optimistic about our communities, or I wouldn’t be standing here. The Town of Wilkesboro is to be commended for what they’ve done. These streets are not empty anymore—the streets are vibrant when we have those (music and market) events, and there’s more of those events coming.

“It’s time for Wilkes County and Wilkesboro to have something like this.”

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