Historic building could be converted to apartments

A local nonprofit wants to convert another vacant historic building in the Wright-Dunbar business district into housing, saying conditions are right for market-rate units.

Wright Dunbar Inc. has received funding to evaluate how to adaptively reuse the Marietta Flats building at 1146 W. Third St.

Wright-Dunbar has welcomed 18 affordable apartments in recent years, but the group believes there is unmet demand for market-rate units.

Interest in living in the district has grown as existing organizations look to expand and new businesses are set to open, officials said.

“We finished the (latest apartment) renovation in May and it’s already leased up — the demand was very high,” said Karen DeMasi, CityWide’s director of neighborhood development.

Earlier this year, new affordable apartments opened in the business district on the 1100 block of West Third. The project included the renovation of a vacant building. The housing is partly meant to make the business district a walkable, livable, family-oriented neighborhood, advocates said. Ten new apartments opened in the district in 2014, and nearly all 18 are leased, officials said.

But many people who applied to live in the new apartments were turned down because their incomes were too high to qualify, said DeMasi.

Wright Dunbar Inc. has secured funding to pay an architect to go through the Marietta Flats building and determine how much it would cost to convert the property into housing. The Wright Dunbar Inc. Board of Trustees has indicated it wants to move forward with market-rate units.

The financing plan includes applying for state historic tax credits. The project could cost about $1 million, DeMasi said.

The three-story Marietta building offers about 10,800 square feet of space and probably could hold eight to 12 units, DeMasi said. Construction could begin in spring 2017, depending on financing.

The building contains natural woodwork, original fireplaces and large windows that provide plenty of natural light, she said.

“It’s a really neat example of Georgian Revival style,” DeMasi said.

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